By Clifford Lo
There has been a sharp rise in seizures of gold and silver bars smuggled from mainland China. Customs officers detected more than two tonnes in the first eight months of the year in a move thought to be connected to the rising value of the precious metals.
Officers seized about 2.2 tonnes of smuggled gold and silver worth more than HK$33 million this year, prompting Hong Kong and mainland authorities to strengthen inspections on both sides of the border, the Post was told.
There were no seizures last year and in 2014.
It is understood the new trend surfaced in the second quarter of this year. Nearly 10 cases involving the import of precious metals from the mainland were detected at border control points over the past five months.
The biggest case involved the seizure ofHK$11 million worth of gold bars hidden in a secret compartment near the mud flap of a Hong Kong-bound limousine’s front wheel at the Shenzhen Bay border crossing.
“Among the seizures, only a small portion was gold, most was silver,” one source with knowledge of the trend said.
He attributed a sudden surge in the number of such smuggling cases to the rising price of the precious metals this year. The price of gold rose by nearly 30 per cent from about US$1,060 per ounce in January to about US$1,350 last month The price of silver rose by more than 40 per cent from about US$14 in January to more than US$20 last month.