Six arrested for smuggling 110 kg of gold into Japan
Okinawa Prefectural Police, Tokyo Metropolitan Police and Okinawa District Customs Office arrested six people, including two members of a designated criminal syndicate, on Jun. 8th, on suspicion of smuggling 110 kg of gold worth ¥480 million into Japan last December.
The gold was found aboard a private jet that had landed at Naha Airport to refuel on a flight from Macau to an undisclosed destination in Japan. When customs officials inspected the aircraft, they found the gold in four suitcases that were in the hold of the aircraft. The people onboard the jet had not declared the possession of the gold, and customs officials seized it on suspicion that the men tried to smuggle it into the country without paying an 8-percent consumption tax and thereby earning a profit of ¥38 million on its resale in Japan.
On Jun. 8th police arrested and brought charges on all six onboard, including 44-year-old Toshiyuki Matsuda and 44-year-old Hiroaki Izumi, both known members of a designated gangster group Inagawa-kai. Toshihiko Sasae, the 55-year-old pilot of the aircraft was also arrested along with three other men onboard.
To import gold into Japan, it must be reported to the customs upon entering the country, and the 8-percent consumption tax must be paid based on the total value of the gold. However, gold smuggling into the country has been on the rise since the consumption tax was hiked to the current 8% from the previous 5% in April 2014. Avoiding the tax payment gives smugglers an 8-percent margin.
According to some sources, smuggling gold from South Korea and Hong Kong has increased most. Police officials point out that it might not be easy to stamp out gold smuggling, because some countries in Asia do not impose any tax on gold imports or exports, and the offense is usually treated by Japanese courts as a misdemeanor.