Police in the Mekong Delta province of An Giang are investigating an alleged illegal trade of an 81.9-kilogram statue of the Buddha, a local official said Wednesday.
According to Phan Loi, deputy chief of the provincial Market Management Agency, the Buddha statue, which is 1.16 meters high, was confiscated from the house of a woman named Atyca on January 13.
The raid was conducted following tip-offs from locals just before the statue, stimated to be worth US$300,000, was about to be sold in Ho Chi Minh City, he added.
Initial investigations show that the statue was salvaged from the sea by a fisherman in adjacent Kien Giang Province. He then sold it to another person, and it changed hands many times before reaching Atyca.
So far An Giang police have questioned four people allegedly involved in the case, while waiting for related agencies' assessment of the statue, including its materials and age.
The statue was painted in black and covered with seaweed, but part of its face and chest where the pain had peeled off looked to be made of gold, Loi said.