Are crime syndicates in Japan sitting on a gold mine?
Japan Times -- Jul 02
The Japanese underworld loves gold --- it has been the analog bitcoin of crime syndicates in recent years. The origins of gold are difficult to trace, and the material is easy to convert into cash and store. Crime syndicates are increasingly smuggling it, stealing it or robbing it from other smugglers who don't have ties to gangs.

A gold smuggler isn't likely to report any theft to the authorities and therefore makes the perfect victim.

Over the past three years, thieves have conducted a "Reservoir Dogs"-style gold heist dressed as police officers hijacked a Mercedes believed to have been loaded with gold and robbed gold dealers in broad daylight.

According to the Finance Ministry, customs reported 294 cases of gold smuggling between July 2015 and June 2016.

And yet crime syndicates have been interested in gold for some time. In December 2014, a member of the Yamaguchi-gumi and an associate were arrested at Fukuoka International Airport after disembarking from a flight from Hong Kong.

Hiroaki Ishimaru, 45, and Yuichi Nagano, a 30-year-old member of the Fukuhaku-kai, were subsequently charged with attempting to smuggle four blocks of gold weighing 1 kilogram each into Japan.

The gold was estimated to be worth ¥18 million and the pair later told investigators they had been trying to avoid paying tax. This appears to be a common practice in crime syndicates.

Customs officials say crime syndicates have been known to purchase gold in places such as Macau or Hong Kong, where the precious metal faces very little tax.

The gold is then typically smuggled into the country by plane, often through Fukuoka, which has many international flights. By not declaring the gold to customs officials, the smugglers avoid paying the consumption tax rate of 8 percent.

After the gold has been smuggled into Japan, it is sold for cash at stores trading in the precious metal, which are often similar to pawnshops.

Smugglers are typically paid the consumption tax on top of the value of the metal, which they simply pocket as profit.

News source: Japan Times
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