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January 8, 2014

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Man jailed for trying to smuggle gold bars

An Australian man who caught with 47 gold bars at Pudong International Airport was sentenced to two and a half years in jail for smuggling precious metal, the Shanghai No.1 Intermediate People's Court said yesterday.

Chen Yingchen, 34, who was born in Taiwan but became an Australian citizen, served as the vice general manager of a Jiangsu-based management company, prosecutors said.

He was found in possession of the gold bars, weighing 2.9 kilograms, by the airport security staff at the Pudong airport on July 27 last year. The gold bars were kept in a blue laptop bag and was not declared at the customs.

He was allowed to leave but the gold bars were seized by the officials. He arrived in Shanghai three weeks later and was detained by local police on August 21. 

Serious illness

“I was anxious about my grandmother who suffered from a serious illness in Taiwan and forgot to declare the gold at the customs,” Chen told the court.

“I’m not very familiar with the law. The officers told me to keep valuable belongings with myself so I put the gold bars in my bag.”

Chen said the gold bars were given to him by his fiancee’s relatives for their engagement, which was confirmed by the fiancee’s aunt.

But prosecutors said according to a transcript of an interview with the customs, Chen said he was forced to bring the gold bars by his friends who intended to sell them.

Chen’s lawyer argued that the interview was conducted under duress and should not be accepted by the court.

The lawyer sought a lighter penalty for Chen as he was a first-time  offender and surrendered himself to police voluntarily.

“None of my gold bars were obtained illegally,” Chen said in his final statement to the judges. “Although I didn’t intentionally violate the law, it amounted to smuggling and I’m willing to undertake the responsibility for it.”

Taking into account his background and surrender voluntarily, the court sentenced him to two-and-a-half years in jail with a two-and-a-half-year reprieve. He was fined 100,000 yuan (US$16,525). The gold bars were confiscated.



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