NEWS

Gold and silver seized at Athens airport linked to front company

Police believe they are on the trail of a gang smuggling gold and silver from Greece to Germany after arresting a man who was carrying more than 7 kilos of gold and intercepting a shipment of 470 kilos of silver at Athens International Airport.

The 32-year-old suspect, a German, was arrested on Thursday by the Financial Crimes Squad as he was about to board a Lufthansa flight to Munich. He had gold bars weighing 7.1 kilos in his luggage. Authorities also found 293,000 euros in cash in his possession.

Kathimerini understands authorities had been on alert after custom officials earlier reported a van with German number plates unloading “unusually heavy boxes” in the cargo area. The shipment, destined for Germany, was accompanied by a delivery note from a telesales company in central Athens.

The boxes contained 470 kilos of silver melted down into blocks. When officers checked the firm, they found it was a front.

The 32-year-old told officers that he had arrived a day earlier and collected the gold from a company located near Syntagma Square. Authorities believe that he was acting as a mule for a wider smuggling ring. It was not immediately clear if the alleged gang was linked to any of the pawn shops that have opened in Athens at a rapid pace since the start of the economic crisis.