Gold Silver Reports — The finance ministry has recommended a CBI inquiry into the mysterious disappearance of 81 kg of gold from customs chest at IGI Airport, suspecting the involvement of senior officials in what is seen as an audacious heist.
The probe suspects that the customs officials concerned connived to replace gold bars weighing 81kg and worth at least Rs 25 crore with non-precious metal.
The first instance of confiscated gold being `replaced’ from the secure vault was reported as early as 2013 and the matter was brought to the notice of the Central Board of Excise & Customs (CBEC) on February 3, 2014. However, an FIR with Delhi Police was lodged only in March, 2014, but a move to launch a probe was scuttled-something, sources said, which points to the “possible involvement of senior officials of the department and will be the focus of CBI probe“.
The pilferage, highlighted recently by TOI, had come to light when packages supposedly containing gold were opened for cross-verification, with the officials discovering that 23 kg of gold worth Rs 7 crore had been swindled by those who had access to lockers inside the high-security airport. Their ho rror grew when the inspection revealed the gold kept in 36 other packets had also been pilfered, leading officials to recommend a CBI probe.
But the proposal was never acted upon because of the resistance from those who, wary of the probe by an outside agency , also managed to scuttle the investigation that finance miniser Arun Jailey ordered in July 2015. With TOI’s exclusive reports training the spotlight on the scam once again, the FM has reiterated his instruction, insisting that accountability ought to be fixed.
An internal stock-taking exercise carried between November 2015 and February 2016 revealed while some packets contained less of the confiscated gold than what was catalogued, some had no gold at all. — Neal Bhai Reports