Customs officials seized 106 kilograms of gold stashed in toilets of a Biman flight at Shahjalal International Airport in the capital yesterday.
Mohammad Anisuddin, assistant aircraft mechanic of Biman Bangladesh Airlines, was arrested in connection with the haul of gold worth Tk 46 crore, said the officials.
“A total of 936 gold bars, each weighing 10 tolas, were stashed in seven toilets of the Biman aircraft BG-052 from Dubai,” said Moinul Khan, director general of customs intelligence at a press briefing at the airport.
Acting on a tip off, customs officials detained Anisuddin yesterday and interrogated him for four hours before searching the aircraft, he added.
“Our suspicion was confirmed when we saw a message arriving on Anis's mobile phone from an overseas number indicating that the gold was in BG-052,” said SA Shams, senior assistant superintendent of Armed Police Battalion (APBn).
Wazed Ali, assistant commissioner of customs intelligence, said the aircraft was searched around 2:20pm although the operation was on since the morning.
“Anisuddin was to take the gold out of the airport through the hangar. The gold bars were hidden inside pockets sewn up in black cloth to blot out the shine of the metal,” he mentioned.
Customs officials made the biggest ever haul of gold on July 24 last year when they seized 124 kg of gold worth Tk 54 crore at Dhaka airport. On March 25 this year, another consignment of 107 kg gold was seized at Shah Amanat International Airport in Chittagong.
There has been a rise in seizure of gold consignments in recent months.
Around 520 kg of gold was seized last year, which was only 25 kg in the previous year, according to customs intelligence unit of the National Board of Revenue.
At least 220 kg of gold has been seized at Dhaka and Chittagong airports in the first three months of this year.
“We suspect that Bangladesh is being used as a transit point to smuggle gold into India where the tax on gold is around 11 percent. In Bangladesh, an 11.6 gram gold bar has a tax liability of Tk 150, whereas the same bar in India would be taxed Tk 4000,” said Moinul Khan.
India in January last year had hiked its import duty on gold by 10 percent.
According to baggage rules, a passenger cannot bring more than 200 gram of gold from abroad. Also, the price of gold is considerably higher in Bangladesh compared to the price in Dubai, which might be another reason for smuggling of gold, noted Moinul.
Customs officials were interrogating the arrestee last night. Filing of a case in connection with the incident was under process.