TOKYO (TR) – Japan’s Ministry of Finance is seeking to apply stricter penalties to smugglers of gold amid a recent surge in the crime as perpetrators attempt to avoid paying taxes, it was learned on Tuesday, reports Jiji Press (Nov. 7).
According to government data, customs officials uncovered a record 467 gold smuggling cases over the one-year period through June of this year — up 60 percent over the same period one year before. The cases represented non-payment of a total of roughly 870 million yen in taxes, a figure that is also the most on record.
The majority of the cases involve smugglers in possession of concealed gold bars arriving in Japan by airplane from South Korea, Hong Kong and Taiwan. In December of last year, four Korean women were arrested after they were found to be hiding gold bars in their underwear.
Fueling the surge in cases is the jump in consumption tax from 5 percent to 8 percent that took place in April of 2014. After not declaring the gold to customs officials and avoiding the tax, smugglers sell it at a precious metals shop for a price that includes the duty.
The Ministry of Finance said on Tuesday that it is considering raising the fine — currently 10 million yen — in 2018 for persons caught evading the tax on gold as one means of stemming the surge in incidents.
Another option is to implement special detection equipment, including metal detectors, at customs check points at airports, the ministry said.