Customs officers seized HK$3.4 million (US$436,000) worth of smuggled gold at the Hong Kong border on Sunday, their second large haul in five days.
The find comes after a man was caught with HK$11 million of undeclared gold in the boot of his car last Wednesday.
Border staff have recently uncovered more cases of smuggled precious metals. There have been at least 26 such cases at the city’s immigration control points so far this year, with border guards confiscating HK$100 million worth of precious metals – more than double the value of seizures from the whole of last year.
Officials attribute the rise to stepped-up security checks and smugglers trying to bypass strict rules on the import and export of precious metals on the mainland by covertly bringing gold and silver bars into Hong Kong to sell.
Hong Kong customs officers seize HK$105 million worth of precious metals from smugglers at the border so far this year
Figures obtained from the Customs and Excise Department showed that as of November, 263kg of gold with an estimated value of HK$93 million was found in 24 cases of smuggling. In the bulk of the cases, suspects were entering the city but in nine they were leaving it.
On Sunday, customs officials inspecting a private car entering the city at Lok Ma Chau Control Point found 11 pieces of suspected smuggled gold weighing about 11kg inside the vehicle and on the 57-year-old driver, who was later arrested.
“The gold slabs were found inside the vehicle and wrapped around the waist of the driver.
“Hong Kong Customs will stay vigilant for emerging smuggling trends, as well as strengthen intelligence collection and risk assessment in a bid to ensure effective enforcement against all kinds of smuggling activities,” a department spokesman said.
Last Wednesday, customs officers stopped a BMW for inspection at Shenzhen Bay immigration control point, where city officials work on mainland land leased to the Hong Kong government.
They found 35kg of undeclared gold, worth HK$11 million, in the car boot and arrested the driver, a 31-year-old Hong Kong man.
In the whole of last year, customs officers seized HK$48 million worth of precious metals being smuggled into the city from the mainland, and arrested 18 people in 11 cases. No one was caught smuggling the metals out of the city.
Hong Kong customs officers detect rising trend of gold and silver bars being smuggled from mainland China
Smuggling is a serious offence in Hong Kong. Under the Import and Export Ordinance, any person found guilty of importing or exporting unmanifested cargo is liable to a maximum fine of HK$2 million and imprisonment of seven years.