Indian Customs detain 'smuggler' found with gold taped to bald head

Passenger on Abu Dhabi to Delhi flight held on suspicion of trying to avoid import duties

Delhi Customs released a video of an officer removing a wig from a passenger's head to reveal melted-down gold attached to his bald pate. Photo: Delhi Customs
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Delhi Customs officials have detained a man who they say attempted to smuggle melted-down gold into India by taping it to his head under a wig.

The man was searched after he disembarked from a flight from Abu Dhabi, customs officials said in a tweet on Tuesday.

He was also found to have gold concealed elsewhere, they said.

A total of 630 grams of gold was seized. The passenger was held and further investigations are under way.

The incident is the latest in a string of attempts by travellers to avoid India's taxes on gold.

Seizures at Delhi, Mumbai and Kerala airports from people travelling from the Gulf have become common. Officers have discovered gold in a juicer, wrapped into belts and in mobile phones.

A number of people were arrested last year at Chennai International Airport for a similar smuggling attempt involving wigs.

Indian media last month reported that about three tonnes of gold has been seized in more than 2,500 cases of smuggling registered by Delhi Customs in 11 years. Most was confiscated at the capital city's Indira Gandhi International Airport.

Although carrying gold on flights is not illegal, passengers must declare the quantity they are importing or exporting to and from India and present the correct documentation.

Men can import up to 20g of gold worth no more than 50,000 rupees ($671) 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 addition to customs charges, the Indian government levies a goods and services tax on the manufacturing and services of gold.

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

There is no limit on the amount of gold a person can export from the UAE and there are no taxes to be paid as you leave the country.

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Updated: April 21, 2022, 11:54 AM