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Customs officer arrests Korean diplomat for smuggling $1.7m gold bullion

Customs officer arrests Korean diplomat for smuggling $1.7m gold bullion

PYONGYANG: Customs officer arrested Korean diplomat for smuggling US$ 1.7m gold bullion in his suit case on airport.

Son Young-man the First Secretary of the North Korean embassy in Dhaka, tried to sneak in 27 kilograms of gold bullion in his luggage last Friday by using diplomatic immunity. North Korean diplomat expelled from Dhaka after smuggling US$1.7m gold bullion in his suitcase. A senior North Korean diplomat after he was caught smuggling US$1.7 million worth of gold, government officials said.

Son, who was flying in from Singapore that day, was caught by armed police and customs officers. The gold was confiscated by security authorities at the Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport.

North Korea is under tight international sanctions that restrict its ability to move money through conventional means. Bangladesh also does not allow gold weighing more than 2kg to be carried in and local customs authorities recently said they have seen a big rise in illegal gold movement.

Son was released on Friday, in accordance with diplomatic protocol under the Vienna Convention, but both countries asked to withdraw him from the embassy.

The diplomat left Bangladesh on Sunday evening, just hours before the Bangladeshi government issued an order expelling him, according to an official who asked not to be named.

North Korea has apologised to the Bangladesh government for the embarrassing incident, withNorth Korean ambassador Ri Song-hyon being summoned by Bangladesh’s foreign ministry.

Ri had apologised and assured Dhaka that appropriate action would be taken against the diplomat, according to the anonymous official.

“We told the ambassador to prosecute [Son] in North Korea and update us about the action to be taken against him,” said Mohammad Shahidul Haque, secretary of the ministry of foreign affairs.

“We conveyed to [Ri] that the government would take serious action if any embassy official is found to be involved in any crimes in future,” Haque said.

The smuggling of gold, mainly from Dubai, has increased in recent months but this is the first instance of a diplomat being involved, he said.Customs intelligence teams have seized nearly one tonne of the precious metal in the past 22 months, compared with just 15 kilograms captured over the previous five-year period.The gold is mostly smuggled in from Gulf nations and then sent to India through the country’s porous 4,000 kilometre land border.

Smuggling is thought to have increased largely due to India’s imposition of strict import duties on gold.