Three in court over R61m gold bar bust at ORTIA
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DURBAN: Three people, allegedly found in possession of R61 million worth of gold bars, have appeared in the Kempton Park Magistrate's court and are due back in court next week, where they are expected to make a formal bail application.
Police spokesperson Colonel Athlenda Mathe said the accused have been charged with illegally dealing in precious metals and contravention of the Customs Act.
Mathe said there was a possibility that money laundering and fraud charges would be brought forward against the three accused at a later stage.
The matter had been postponed to January 12 for further investigation and a formal bail application.
“While investigations continue, the Hawks through Interpol are in talks with authorities in Madagascar, Dubai and Ethiopia to establish where this gold originates from and where it was destined to go," Mathe said.
In earlier reports, the SAPS said gold weighing 73.5kg was found in hand luggage at OR Tambo International Airport (ORTIA).
Mathe said acting on information provided by security officials at the airport after a security scanner identified irregular images, a multi-disciplinary team intercepted the trio at the international arrival terminals.
After questioning the suspects and further inspection of their hand luggage, officials allegedly discovered the gold bars and some foreign currency.
Both the gold bars and foreign currency had been seized for further investigation under the Customs and Excise Act and the Exchange Control Regulations.
The suspects had been detained and the matter taken over by the SAPS Organised Crime Unit for criminal investigations.
Investigations by the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (Hawks) were also under way with assistance from Interpol and authorities from various countries, to determine the legitimacy of the certification papers allegedly provided by the men, and also to determine the country where the gold was mined. Investigations would also focus on which country the gold bars were destined for.