Hong Kong family of three arrested over suspected theft of gold ornaments for delivery to Japan
Police seek middleman in arrangement for family to carry gold bars, coins and ornaments worth HK$1.4 million to Japan on behalf of businessman owner
A Hong Kong family of three including a 15-year-old schoolboy, who were paid to deliver HK$1.4 million worth of gold to Japan, were in police custody in the city on Thursday after being arrested on suspicion of stealing the haul.
The missing gold, including gold bars, coins and ornaments, has not been recovered, according to a police source.
It is understood officers are searching for a Hongkonger who worked as a middleman to help a local businessman find someone to deliver the gold to Japan.
The alleged theft sparked a citywide police search for the family – a 50-year-old man, his 35-year-old wife and 15-year-old stepson – after police received a report from the middleman on Monday afternoon, according to police.
The middleman told police that the family carrying the gold went missing after they arrived at Hong Kong International Airport on Monday. He was originally scheduled to take a Japan-bound flight with the family that day.
The 32-year-old businessman, who is the owner of the gold, made a report to police at about 3.30pm on Tuesday, saying he handed the gold to the family on Monday and later failed to find them.
It is understood the family was offered a monetary reward and free flights to deliver the consignment to Japan.
The family of three went to Tin Shui Wai police station at about 9.30pm on Wednesday to surrender to police. They were then arrested in connection with the alleged theft.
They are still at the police station and have not been charged.
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“Police were told that the family realised it was a smuggling attempt so they changed their mind, handed over the gold ornaments to the middleman and then left the airport [on Monday],” a police source said.
The source said it was possible the delivery was arranged to dodge Japanese import taxes.
But the businessman told police that it did not involve gold smuggling, saying he would have made a declaration toJapanese authorities if the family had boarded the flight.
It is understood the father works as a chauffeur in the city, his wife is a housewife and the boy is a secondary school student.