More than 30kg of gold has been recovered from a diplomatic parcel in the name of the UAE consulate in India.
Customs officials at the international airport in the southern state of Kerala found gold hidden inside bathroom fittings that had apparently been smuggled.
The parcel was in the name of the UAE Consulate in Thiruvananthapuram.
The UAE has expressed ignorance of the parcel and said a former local employee had been arrested.
According to local media reports, another person has also been arrested.
The UAE embassy in Delhi said in a Twitter message that an investigation was underway into who sent the parcel.
The embassy said that “Emirati authorities have stressed that those involved who have not only committed a serious crime but also tried to tarnish the image of the UAE mission in India will not be released.”
“We are committed to cooperating with the Indian authorities in rooting out this crime,” the message said.
The UAE ambassador to India told Gulf News that a former consulate employee had been fired several months ago for “not doing his job”.
Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vajpayee is being pressured by the opposition to resign but has denied any involvement in the incident. A senior state official has been removed from his post.
According to Reuters, the reduction in the number of international flights due to the corona virus has hurt the arrival of gold in India through smuggling and has increased the price of gold.
“In the current situation, it is expected that there will be a significant reduction in smuggling,” Somasundram PR, head of Indian affairs at the World Gold Council, told Reuters. The smuggling was severely affected during the lockdown.
He expects the volume to be much lower this year than the 115 to 120 tonnes of smuggled gold arriving in India in 2019.
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