l Tenzin Lhamo, Thimphu
The Royal Bhutan Army (RBA) officials apprehended a man for allegedly trying to smuggle 15 kilograms of gold at Phobeding near Goni Tsawa in Paro at around 00.14 AM on September 30, 2017.
A 40-year-old Thinley from Chu-yul in Tsento under Paro Dzongkhag was caught in possession of 15 pieces of gold biscuits each weighing a kilogram.
Upon interrogation by the army officials, he confessed to the crime and also named two others, Dawa Tshering, 28, and Tashi Gyeltshen, 39, both from same gewog, as his accomplices. The two were later arrested.
In his statement, he mentioned that Dawa Tshering and he were given Nu 11,000 each by Tashi Gyeltshen to transport the consignment from Phari in Tibet, China, to Paro.
‘Tshering Namgyel, a Tibetan at Phari, and Tashi Gyeltshen had fixed the deal to smuggle the gold over WeChat and we were told to sneak in the consignment on September 28. The following morning, we headed towards Phari,’ Thinley’s statement mentioned.
His statement further mentioned that while coming back, as soon as they crossed the border, he called Tashi Gyeltshen to inform that two of them were ferrying the consignment on turn basis.
‘At the time of arrest, I was carrying the gold. Dawa Gyeltshen could manage to flee from the scene,’ he stated.
According to Section 10.1.4 (3.e.) of the Sales tax, Customs and Excise Act of 2000, importing gold weighing more than 50 grams is impermissible. Section 13.1 of the Act states that anybody bringing the gold within permissible quantity should get a prior approval from the Royal Monetary Authority (RMA) and it must be duly declared at the entry point.
As per the RMA valuation, one gram of gold cost Nu. 3097.80. Thus, the total worth of 15 kgs sums up to over Nu 46 million.
While Tashi Gyeltshen, the mastermind, is being charged for solicitation in accordance to Section 126 of the Penal Code of Bhutan, Thinley and Dawa Tshering are charged for Third Degree Felony for violating Section 134(B) of the Penal Code.
The RBA officials handed over the accused on October 5th, 2017. The case is in Paro Dzongkhag Court.