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Gold theft forces Customs to beef up Security of its Vaults

Gold theft forces Customs to beef up Security of its Vaults – “It must be ensured that the strong room or valuables godown can be opened only when the two keys are used,” the guidelines said.

imagesCiting serious concerns over instances of gold thefts from secure vaults, the customs authorities have been asked to strengthen security measures by posting honest officers and installing cameras to guard these strong rooms.

In guidelines issued recently, customs authorities have been asked to carry out quarterly inspections of seized valuables stored in the safe and take stock of all packages and condition of each package lying there.

Besides, it has barred the entry of any other person other than the custodian to the valuables godown unless otherwise authorised by the Commissioner of Customs, it said, adding that valuables should be kept in a strong room or in a locker in a nationalised bank.

The move comes as gold worth crores of rupees seized from smugglers has been mysteriously disappearing from highly secured customs vaults at the Indira Gandhi International Airport (IGIA) in Delhi, and from a few other secure locations across the country.

A total of 23.6 kg of gold (worth Rs 6.28 crore as per prevailing market price) has gone missing from the customs vaults at the IGIA, the customs department had said in reply to an RTI query filed by PTI.

In recent past, smuggling of high value goods, especially gold, is on the rise as evidenced by the increasing number of seizures made by the Directorate General of Revenue Intelligence and the field formations.

“At the same time, there have been instances of loss or theft of gold and high value goods from the strong rooms or seized goods godowns reported by the field formations.

“Though there are detailed guidelines for handling and storage of seized or detained and confiscated goods, the recent cases of loss and theft of valuables raise a serious concern over the way these guidelines are implemented by the field formations,” reads the guidelines issued by Central Board of Excise and Customs (CBEC).

Only experienced officers whose integrity is absolutely beyond doubt, should be posted as incharge of the valuable godowns, the circular said.

“The strong rooms storing valuables should have a double lock system. The two keys for operating the strong room should be entrusted to two separate officers; one to the custodian and the other to a superior or supervisory officer of gazetted rank.

“It must be ensured that the strong room or valuables godown can be opened only when the two keys are used,” the guidelines said.

No officer, including custodian-in-charge of the strong room shall be allowed to open the godown on any holiday (including Saturday and Sunday), except with a prior written permission from seniors. The reasons for opening on holidays shall be clearly recorded by the seniors while giving such permission, it said.

The strong rooms shall have additional security features like CCTV camera at the most vantage points to keep round the clock surveillance. Digital photograph or videograph of the packages (carrying valuables) shall also be taken and preserved in the computer of the custodian so that in the event of any tampering, it can be cross verified with the original packing, the CBEC said.

The custodian should take adequate precautions against theft and pilferage and keep watch on the condition of the goods and immediately report each such case. “The custodian shall also ensure that the packages are carefully stored and protected against the ravages of weather, ants, rodents, insects etc,” the guidelines said.

Source: Economic Times

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