KATHMANDU: Central Investigation Bureau (CIB) has taken Lokendra Paudel, the driver of Daojin Wang, a Chinese national implicated in a gold smuggling operation using electronic cigarettes (Vapes), into custody.
Sources from the CIB confirmed that Paudel, the driver connected to the alleged smuggling activities of the Chinese citizen, was apprehended in Kathmandu a few days ago.
The resurgence in the investigation into gold smuggling was triggered when Rahul Mahara, the son of former Speaker Krishna Bahadur Mahara, was arrested on August 30 under mounting pressure. Subsequently, the CIB commenced a second round of inquiries, leading to Paudel’s arrest.
The initial discovery took place during a routine inspection at the Tribhuvan International Airport customs office on February 12 when 730 vapes, packed in 73 bags across two suitcases, were seized.
Subsequently, it was revealed that these vapes contained gold, and an illicit exchange of goods had facilitated the smuggling of 9 kg of gold, with the alleged complicity of a customs deputy named Subba.
After thorough investigations, the CIB filed charges on July 12 in the District Court of Kathmandu, focusing on offenses related to criminal treachery and organized crime. The inclusion of the names of Krishna Bahadur Mahara and his son Rahul in the case intensified the calls for their investigation.
The arrested driver, however, has denied any involvement in the smuggling operation.
Furthermore, the Bureau has also taken a statement from former Speaker Mahara as part of their ongoing inquiry into the matter.