Gold worth at least Rs 25 crore seized from smugglers has mysteriously disappeared from customs vaults at Indira Gandhi International Airport here, prompting the authorities to order a CBI probe.
A huge haul of over 80 kg gold, both in form of bullion and jewellery, has gone missing in the last over four years from the customs warehouse. In all the cases, it was replaced with non-precious yellow-coloured metal, official sources said.
The seized gold was valued at Rs 25 crore as per current market rates, they said.
The cases of disappearance of gold had earlier been reported to Delhi Police. As the pilferage continued, the Finance Ministry decided to recommend a CBI probe following approval of Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, official sources said.
The CBI has been asked to register a Preliminary Enquiry (PE) into the matter and find out as to how the gold was replaced with the non-precious metal inside the heavily guarded vault, they said. The cases of missing gold related to period between 2012 and June this year.
The vigilance wing of the Finance Ministry is also looking into the suspected role of customs officials, they said.
Earlier, replying to an RTI query filed by PTI, the Delhi customs had said over 23 kg of gold worth more than Rs six crore had gone missing from its warehouse.
In June last year, the customs officials had lodged an FIR in connection with disappearance of 11 kg of gold worth Rs 2.92 crore from its vault. The gold was seized in five incidents from passengers at the international airport.
Another case was registered in 2014 to probe similar instances of theft.
Similar cases were also reported to the Delhi Police on January 16, 20, April 30 and December 23, 2014 in which gold worth lakhs of rupees was replaced by a yellow metal.
An FIR was registered in June this year by Delhi Police on the complaint of customs officials who said two gold chains and bangles, together weighing 298 gm, valued at about Rs 8.83 lakh, were replaced with yellow coloured non-precious metal.
The incident came to light when packets containing 1.27 kg gold, including the stolen gold chains and bangles, duly sealed at the instance of a court, were opened by the customs officials before a departmental committee as part of inventorisation proceedings.