Officials have reported approximately 55.5 kg of gold bars and jewellery worth around Tk 47 crore (US$4,271,136.28) have been stolen from a customs warehouse at Dhaka airport.
The customs warehouse filed a case when four assistant revenue officers (AROs) and four guards failed to provide satisfactory answers regarding the incident.
The stolen valuables were originally seized between 2020 and last month from individuals who arrived at the airport with more gold than permitted by law.
According to customs sources, two warehouses at Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport store gold bars, jewelry, and other illegally imported items. It was expected that one of the warehouses would contain 200 kg of gold, but on Saturday, officers found only about 145 kg.
The customs commissioner has sought assistance from the police and intelligence agencies and stated that the gold should have been deposited with the Bangladesh Bank within seven days, as required by the Customs Act 1969. However, the gold was not deposited because owners were supposed to claim the items after paying fines and taxes.
The gold was stolen in stages, as two AROs were assigned to oversee the warehouses, each with a set of keys. The AROs, who are now under investigation, were responsible for physically checking the inventory when they took charge of the warehouses on November 10 last year.
The investigation began when senior officials found six gold bars in a less secure warehouse area on August 14. Subsequently, a thorough examination was conducted on items that had arrived in 2020, with the assistance of goldsmiths, to determine the amount of gold present.
During the inventory examination, two AROs reported to senior officials that a warehouse seemed to have been broken into, leading to law enforcement involvement.
After conducting a forensic investigation, law enforcement officials found no evidence of unauthorized entry and suggested the possibility of insider involvement.
The absence of security cameras in that area has raised suspicions about the potential involvement of customs personnel responsible for security. The missing gold includes around eight kg seized on August 13 this year and 47 kg seized at various times since 2020.