How Nepal Turned to Gold Smuggling  Hub?

Unveiling a Nation's Golden Underbelly

Nepal, a land renowned for its majestic Himalayas and as the birthplace of Lord Buddha, is reluctantly stepping into the spotlight for a less honorable reason – the burgeoning reputation as a hub for gold smuggling. 

Recent events, such as the seizure of a staggering 29.5 kg of gold in the Kathmandu Valley within the past five days, underscore the pervasive nature of this illicit activity. Over the last decade, authorities have confiscated an alarming 699.2 kg of gold at international airports and border crossings.

The roots of Nepal's gold smuggling predicament delve into the 1960s during the reign of King Mahendra. An attempt to boost economic activity inadvertently granted concessions to Manang residents, facilitating the smuggling of gold. 

Prime Minister Surya Bahadur Thapa further solidified this trend by engaging residents in transporting gold from third countries, notably Hong Kong, to India, initiating a cycle of gold smuggling that endures today

In the 1980s, high-ranking officials' involvement came to light when members of the Rashtriya Panchayat, Chandra Bahadur Budha and Nar Bahadur Gurung, were apprehended smuggling gold from Hong Kong.

Exposing Corruption in the 1980s:

This incident exposed deep-seated corruption within Nepal's political system and highlighted the impunity enjoyed by those in positions of power.

Exposing Corruption in the 1980s:

The political shift of 1990 created a vacuum, allowing gold smuggling to flourish with no single party securing a majority. The year 2000 marked a turning point with the seizure of 100 kilograms of gold from Korean citizens at Tribhuvan International Airport, signaling the growing scale and audacity of smugglers.

Political Shift and Escalation:

As Nepal's international connections grew, so did smuggling routes. Dubai, Thailand, Malaysia, Qatar, and China joined Hong Kong as key players. Additional border points with China, particularly Tatopani-Khasa and Rasuwa-Kerung, amplified the issue, providing smugglers with numerous avenues.

One concerning aspect is the blatant disparity in treatment at Tribhuvan International Airport. Ordinary citizens, often returning from the Gulf with small quantities of gold, face rigorous scrutiny and fees, while large-scale smuggling operations seem to operate with impunity, exposing deep-seated corruption.

Nepal faces a complex challenge in dismantling intricate networks and addressing deep-rooted corruption. A multi-pronged approach is essential, encompassing strengthening law enforcement, tackling political corruption, promoting transparency and accountability, and enhancing international cooperation.

This is not just a Nepali problem; it is a regional and global issue requiring international collaboration. Nepal's neighbors, particularly India and China, have a crucial role to play. International organizations like the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime can provide valuable expertise and resources.

Nepal and the international community must work together to dismantle the networks of gold smugglers. By prioritizing transparency, strengthening institutions, and fostering a culture of accountability, Nepal can reclaim its place as a respected member of the international community, ensuring a brighter future for its citizens.