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HomeworldSingapore smugglers recruit Indian migrant workers as 'gold mules': Report

Singapore smugglers recruit Indian migrant workers as 'gold mules': Report

Singapore: Smugglers in Singapore have been approaching Indian migrant workers flying home via Changi Airport to act as ‘gold mules’ by carrying jewellery in exchange for a fee, according to a media report on Sunday.

Travellers who show an interest in being a gold mule are directed to a quiet spot in the airport, where a deal is struck. During negotiations, the courier is assured that a syndicate runner will retrieve the gold jewellery from him when he lands in India, The Straits Times reported.

While it is not illegal in Singapore for travellers to carry precious metals, including gold, out of the country, the couriers risk breaking the law in India when they do not declare the gold they are carrying in, the report quoted Mohamed Bilal, president of the Gem Traders Association of Singapore, as saying.

Male Indian nationals are permitted to carry up to 20 gram of duty-free gold, of a maximum value of Rs 50,000 rupees (SGD 800), into India. The limit for female Indian nationals is double in terms of weight and value.

Gold jewellery carried over and above these limits will attract customs duty.

Bilal said that the practice of smuggling gold through ‘mules’ has been going on for decades.

Gold smuggling runners at Terminal 1 of the Changi Airport want the ‘mules’ to carry jewellery of between 25 gram and 30 gram of gold, which is just outside the legal limit, the report said.

Meanwhile, the report said, Indian authorities, including customs officials, are on the lookout for travellers acting as gold mules.

This comes in the wake of a spike in gold smuggling to the country, and amid reports of syndicates targeting travellers at various airports in jurisdictions in the Gulf, as well as in Asia, including Malaysia and Singapore, where gold is cheaper than in India, it said.

There is no weight limit on the amount of gold and other precious metals that can be transported out of Singapore by travellers, the report said, quoting Singapore Police Force.

In India, the world’s second-biggest gold consumer, one gram of 24 karat gold costs about SGD 99 (approx Rs 6,177). It would cost about SGD 92.40 (approx Rs 5,765) in Singapore.

(Published 17 December 2023, 11:03 IST)

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