The three main accused in the 33kg gold smuggling case are now being interrogated by the Department of Money Laundering Investigation as they are suspected to have amassed a fortune by illegally importing a huge quantity of precious yellow metal.
The main accused, Chudamani Upreti aka Gorey, Bhujung Gurung and Tsering Wangel Ghale, were flown to Kathmandu from Morang early this morning upon a request made by the department. The Kathmandu-based department decided to interrogate the three after Morang District Attorney’s Office filed a complaint at the court stating sources of wealth amassed by the three had to be traced. It is suspected that gold smuggling is the major source of their wealth. “We’ll also investigate who was the ultimate beneficiary of the smuggled gold,” said DMLI Spokesperson Binod Lamichhane.
A special probe committee led by Ishwar Raj Paudel, joint secretary of the Ministry of Home Affairs, will also interrogate the three accused.
The three have been kept at Central Jail in Kathmandu.
The three are key persons, who are suspected to have smuggling huge quantity of gold into the country via Tribhuvan International Airport in Kathmandu. Police investigation shows that the group smuggled gold worth Rs 17 billion in 521 trips since mid-July 2015.
The crime committed by the gang was exposed following the disappearance of the 33kg gold smuggled into the country on January 23. In the course of finding out the whereabouts of the lost gold, Gorey and his henchmen allegedly electrocuted Sanam Shakya, a gold carrier, to death. Shakya’s death exerted pressure on the police to launch a detailed investigation into the case, which unveiled the nexus between senior police officers and gold smugglers. Eventually, police linked 63 people to the case and charge sheets were filed against the suspects at Morang District Court.
The main accused in gold smuggling and murder of Shakya, Gorey, was arrested on May 22. He blamed Ghale of operating the racket and claimed that he was only a carrier of gold.
However, Ghale, in a court statement, has denied his involvement in the case. Ghale surrendered to Morang District Court last week. Earlier, Gurung had said police would be able to connect many dots in the smuggling case if Ghale, who was absconding at that time, was arrested.