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Japan minting heftier fines on gold smuggling

Customs busts hit record levels amid higher sales tax

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An 8% consumption tax is levied on gold brought into Japan.   © Reuters

TOKYO -- Japan is moving to stiffen the penalty for gold smuggling above its current maximum of 10 million yen ($91,000) amid an upsurge in the illicit practice suspected of being a funding source for criminal activities.

Gold smuggling has soared since Japan's consumption tax was lifted from 5% to 8% in April 2014, which raised the incentive to sneak the precious metal into the country for resale at a higher value. In Japan, the buyer pays the sales tax. People bringing gold into the country are required to declare the amount and pay the necessary tax.

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