Indian taekwondo team investigated in Delhi after discovery of gold worth $35,000

Coach and 10 minors found with 667 grams of undeclared items from Bangkok

India has the highest demand for gold in the world, ranking above China and the US. Khushnum Bhandari / The National
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A taekwondo coach returning to India with his young team from Thailand are being investigated on suspicion of smuggling gold worth $35,000.

The unidentified trainer and his 13 team members were stopped by customs officials at Delhi's Indira Gandhi International Airport, officials said in a Twitter post on Monday evening.

A search of the Indian coach, two others and 10 minors uncovered undeclared gold chains and rings weighing 667 grams.

The seizure came 24 hours after an Indian man was caught at Delhi airport with 216g of gold hidden inside a Thermos flask, shortly after arriving from Singapore.

Two other men were arrested at the airport on September 2 for smuggling 12 gold bars from Riyadh, weighing 1.4kg and valued at about $81,676.

Gold prices have drifted towards a six-week low in the face of tightening monetary policy around the world and rising global inflation.

Gold's value has historically risen in times of economic uncertainty when inflation is high and is seen as a stable long-term investment.

India has the highest demand for gold in the world, and ranks above China and the US, largely owing to its popularity as a gift for weddings or to pass on as a family inheritance.

Passengers are often intercepted carrying undeclared gold arriving from airports in the UAE, particularly from Dubai where there is a booming gold market.

India allows nationals to carry 20g of gold for men worth 50,000 rupees and 40g for women, duty-free.

Men can import up to 20g of gold worth no more than 50,000 rupees duty free. Female passengers are allowed to bring in 40g with a value of up to 100,000 rupees without paying tax.

Travellers who want to bring more gold into India must declare it on arrival at border control and pay import duty.

In July, the Indian government increased the import duty on gold to 15 per cent from 10.75 per cent as the rupee continues to weaken against the US dollar.

In addition to customs charges, the government levies a goods and services tax on the manufacturing and services of gold.

Anyone buying gold must pay GST, as well as charges, which add 8 per cent to the total cost.

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Updated: September 06, 2022, 10:20 AM