KATHMANDU: In a significant development, the Department of Revenue Investigation (DRI) handed over the investigation files and 17 individuals arrested in connection with the 100-kilogram gold smuggling case to the Central Investigation Bureau (CIB) of the police on Sunday.
Navraj Dhungana, the DRI Director General, confirmed that all the relevant evidence collected during the ongoing investigation has been included in the transferred files, along with the 17 arrested suspects.
“We are sending all the arrested individuals, the collected evidence, and the investigation file to the CIB,” stated Dhungana.
The decision to transfer the case to the CIB was taken by the government just last Thursday. Prior to this, DRI had been solely handling the investigation.
The CIB has already appointed an investigation officer, DSP Durgaraj Dahal, who has initiated the probe since Friday.
CIB Chief AIG Kiran Bajracharya expressed that the course of the investigation will become clearer upon receiving the files from the Revenue Department.
The 18 people arrested in connection with the case have been identified, and among them, one individual is reportedly being held back due to health reasons.
The arrested suspects include taxi driver Ashok Lama, customs agent Rajendra Rai, Ready Trade owner Dilip Bhujel, and Dilip’s uncle Ramkumar Bhujel. Additionally, Harkaraj Rai, who allegedly compelled Dilip to establish the company, is also among the detainees.
Foreign nationals involved in the case include Thupten Chiring, a person of Indian-Tibetan origin, and Chinese citizen Zhikwang Lin. Rajan Shrestha and Krishna Shrestha, owners of cargo companies, are also among the arrested.
Furthermore, customs officers Santosh Chand, X-ray operator Saroj Shrestha, and Kumar Dhakal, who was involved in customs inspection, have been apprehended.
Customs agents Yadav Shankar Parajuli and Sudarshan Gautam, along with Rukmina Subba, were arrested for their alleged role in facilitating the passage of the smuggled gold through customs. However, Subba was not transferred to CIB custody due to her illness with cancer.
Another individual arrested is Santosh Tamang of Nuwakot, who rented a warehouse to a Chinese citizen.
Previously, the suspects were under the custody of the Revenue Department, held in the Lalitpur premises and Sanepa Division, where the investigation was conducted. Now, the CIB will take over the case, including further inquiries and possible arrests of other involved individuals.
The CIB will conduct a comprehensive investigation into both revenue evasion and organized crime aspects linked to the case, simultaneously probing all arrested suspects.