Italian finance police had a lucky find on Easter Sunday during a routine check of a family car crossing into Switzerland: they discovered gold ingots worth about €4.5 million (CHF5.5 million) concealed in false compartments.
The car was driven by a 53-year-old Italian resident of the Swiss canton of Ticino, described by the police as the legal representative of a Swiss company.
He was travelling with his wife and three children, apparently going for an Easter trip.
The police decided to examine the car more thoroughly when they saw how nervous the family looked. They found 12 gold bars wrapped up in newspaper hidden under the seats.
The driver “was unable to provide an explanation or to show a legitimate source for this large quantity of precious metal”, the police in Ponte Chiasso said. He and his wife gave “evasive answers”.
The man was immediately charged with money laundering. The ingots and the car were seized. Investigations are continuing into the source and destination of the gold.
There has been an upsurge in the smuggling of gold from Italy to Switzerland in the past few months since the Italian authorities launched a campaign against tax evasion and money laundering.
swissinfo.ch and agencies