Some companies lending against gold as collateral don’t check the source of all that glitters
Enterprises that extend loans against gold came under the scanner when a dacoit managed to mortgage stolen gold to secure a loan in Odisha’s Ganjam district.
The novel plan unravelled when the Berhampur police launched an investigation into a series of burglaries involving gold ornament was reported from the city. After a month-long operation, two dacoits were arrested and 540 gram of gold ornaments worth ₹25 lakh was recovered from them. The accused confessed to their involvement in no less than 15 burglaries. But that wasn’t all.
“One of the dacoits was found to have opened an account with gold loan lending company. Over a period of time, he deposited stolen gold with the company to secure ₹21 lakh as loan,” said Berhampur Superintendent of Police Pinak Mishra on Thursday.
“Customers pledge their gold ornaments as a collateral deposit to secure a loan. It is up to the gold loan providing companies to find out the source of gold being mortgaged. We have decided to expand the purview of our investigation to see if these companies have become a point for converting ill-gotten gold into loans,” Mr. Mishra said.
The robbers would reconnaissance their targets during the day and enter houses they found to be under lock and key at the night. One of the new-age burglars used a sedan offered by an American car maker in India for the heists, but he could not satisfactorily explain how he had mobilised ₹15 lakh for buying the luxury vehicle. Moreover, high-end motorcycles costing more than ₹2.5 lakh were used to flee after the burglaries. Their air travel history too has been probed. “The burglars were leading very luxurious life and were involved in gambling,” the Berhampur SP said.
“They are professional burglars. Two dacoits admitted before our investigators that they had learnt a simpler method of breaking open doors. They knew tricks for melting stolen ornaments into gold ingots from YouTube,” Mr. Mishra added.
Three other persons who had purchased gold at a price lower than that prevailing in the market were also arrested. Mr. Mishra said further investigation was required to find out their modus operandi. A retired police officer said that earlier, criminals would find it very difficult to dispose stolen goods for fear of revealing their identity. “If dacoits can mortgage stolen gold and get cash in lieu of it, they will be encouraged to commit similar crimes in the future. Accountability must be fixed on the companies offering gold loans,” he said.