(Minews) - Twelve gold bars weighing nearly a pound and worth US$23,000 were found inside the stomach of an Indian businessman who tried smuggling the precious metal into the country from Singapore.
According to The Indian Express the 63-year-old man visited a hospital in New Delhi earlier this month, saying he had swallowed the cap of a water bottle and wanted it removed.
Doctors soon operated after he repeatedly vomited and complained of sharp abdominal pain, and later found the bars.
We were shocked when gold biscuits came out of his abdomen during the operation,” the surgeon told the newspaper. “But I am at least happy that I could save his life. If it had stayed inside for couple of more days, it would have led to severe bleeding and rupture of the intestine and septicaemia. Moreover, he had severe diabetes.”
Gold smuggling into India has increased dramatically since the nation hiked its import duty on the yellow metal from 4% to 15% last year, with the customs department at the Delhi airport saying it seized 352kg of gold by the end of 2013, 52 times more than the previous year.
Officials estimate that only a 12th part of all the gold smuggled through the airport is detected, The Times of India reports.
Last week, the World Gold Council said India’s demand for gold is likely to remain high this year, despite government attempts to slow the flow of the precious metal to the South Asian nation.
India lost its position as the world’s top consumer of gold to China last year and it will likely stay at number two in 2014 as both countries are expected to see their gold demand stay around the same levels they were last year, the WGC added.
India’s demand for gold this year is expected to reach between 900 and 1,000 metric tons, little changed from the 975 tons it consumed last year.