DHAKA - Bangladesh's customs officers caught a North Korean diplomat trying to smuggle an estimated US$1.4 million (S$1.92 million) worth of gold into the country, a senior official said on Friday.
"We recovered the gold both in the form of bar and ornaments from Son Young Nam, the First Secretary of the North Korean Embassy in Dhaka," said Moinul Khan, the Director General of the Custom Intelligence department, adding the gold weighed about 27 kilogrammes in total.
The diplomat was released but Bangladesh is seeking to press charges.
Moinul told Reuters that the diplomat was passing through the green channel from Dhaka's international airport - Hazrat Shahjalal International airport - on a late arriving Singapore Airlines flight from Singapore.
The customs officials at the airport wanted to scan his hand luggage. "He told our officials that there was nothing to scan," said Najibur Rahman, chairman of the National Board of Revenue. "Later we informed our foreign ministry and he was released on Friday under the Vienna Convention," Najibur told Reuters.
A case has been filed against him with the customs department, Moinul said. "We have also initiated the process to file a criminal case against him." The official said that in recent months the smuggling of gold increased mainly from Dubai, but this was the first instance of a diplomat carrying gold.
The North Korean government will be informed soon and further action will be taken through government channels, Moinul said.