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3 men nabbed for smuggling 100 mil. yen in gold into Japan from Hong Kong

CHIBA -- Three men were arrested for allegedly smuggling 100 million yen worth of gold weighing about 22 kilograms from Hong Kong into Japan via Narita International Airport and failing to pay consumption tax totaling 8.15 million yen, the Chiba Prefectural Police announced on Sept. 27.

Police believe that the suspects ran a gold smuggling ring and used multiple "couriers" to repeatedly bring gold into Japan illegally.

According to the Chiba police, the suspects are Kohei Hatsuta, 45, a part-time worker in the city of Misato north of Tokyo; Mikio Ito, 48, a company director in the capital's Suginami Ward; and Satoshi Katsuchi, 36, a part-time worker in the city of Chiba's Chuo Ward, east of Tokyo.

The three men allegedly had more than 10 transporters smuggle gold bullion without declaring it at customs from June 29 through July 9, pocketing the 8.15 million yen they would have had to pay in tax as profit -- a violation of the Customs Act and Consumption Tax Act.

Police say Hatsuta and the others had the couriers hide the gold in their underwear. Investigators are questioning the couriers on a voluntary basis.

Under the Consumption Tax Act, a gold importer must declare it at customs and pay consumption tax based on the purchase price. If gold is bought in a region or country without a consumption tax and sold in Japan without a customs declaration, the value of the consumption tax avoided becomes profit. This modus operandi has been on the rise since around 2014, when the consumption tax was raised to 8 percent from 5 percent in Japan. Hong Kong does not have a consumption tax.

(Japanese original by Shohei Kato and Buntaro Saito, Chiba Bureau)

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