Badran Fares and Rozan Giulani, an Arab couple from Jerusalem, were arrested on Sunday at Ben Gurion Airport on suspicion of tax evasion after they tried to smuggle 146 gold coins worth NIS 300,000 into Israel, for which the tax amount is NIS 51,000, the latest such exposure by Israel’s Tax Authority.
The couple was arrested as part of a Jerusalem customs and VAT investigation, in cooperation with Ben Gurion Airport Customs.
The suspects were detained after passing through the green lane at customs, without declaring that they had taxable goods on their bodies or in their luggage.
In a questioning conducted prior to a physical search, they were asked if they had any valuable goods that they had not declared and replied in the negative. They were then asked if there was any gold on their bodies and again replied in the negative.
A search of their bodies turned up 71 gold coins on Badran Fares’ body and another 75 coins on Giulani’s body. The couple also tried to smuggle 165 cigarette boxes that they did not declare, with the law allowing 10 cigarette boxes per passenger.
They were released on bail and their investigation is ongoing.
The Tax Authority did not state from which country the couple had arrived. A spokesperson for the Tax Authority declined TPS’ request for further information.
This latest incident is one of a series in recent months in which Arabs with Israeli citizenship arriving from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) or Turkey have been caught with gold bullion worth millions, apparently part of a network of gold smugglers from Dubai.
At the end of April, an attempt by three Arabs from Jerusalem to smuggle gold coins worth NIS 2 million from Dubai through Ben Gurion Airport was thwarted.
In March, an Arab from eastern Jerusalem was arrested on his return from Dubai with gold coins worth about NIS 1 million, which were hidden in a belt.