New Delhi, Seven Taiwanese nationals were arrested in India Monday for trying to take a large sum of U.S. dollars out of the country, Taiwan's representative office in India confirmed Wednesday.
The seven people -- three men and four women -- were caught following a tipoff at Indira Gandhi International Airport, where they were seeking to leave the country with a total of US$890,000 in cash hidden in their luggage, according to the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence.
The suspects, including one man identified as Kao Kai-lien, confessed to committing the offense after an initial investigation.
They told Indian investigators that they planned to take the money out of India in exchange for NT$18,000-NT$22,000 (US$720) each, after successfully smuggling 18 kilograms of gold into the country from Hong Kong Aug. 3.
According to the suspects, they were commissioned by a pair of Indian brothers, one in Hong Kong and one in New Delhi, to bring in the gold and sneak out the cash.
It is understood that the smuggling ring has hired a lawyer to represent them, the Taiwan office said.
A total of 17 Taiwanese people, including the seven, have been detained in India in cases related to gold smuggling this year, the office said.
Another 10 alleged smugglers, all involved in illegally carrying gold from Hong Kong to India in four different cases since February, have been released on bail but barred from leaving the country and are awaiting court hearings, the office said.
Given the high frequency of gold smuggling cases involving Taiwanese, the Indian authorities have posted warnings at airports against such practices by travelers from Taiwan, dealing a heavy blow to Taiwan's international image, it said.
The office urged Taiwanese people not to engage in such criminal activities, as India has greatly increased the penalty for gold- smuggling, with prison terms of up to seven years, it warned.
Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel