Bangladesh expels North Korean diplomat for gold smuggling

DHAKA (Reuters) - Bangladesh expelled a senior North Korean diplomat on Monday after he was caught smuggling $1.4 million worth of gold, government officials said.

Bangladeshi customs officers found Son Young Nam, the First Secretary of the North Korean Embassy in Dhaka, trying to smuggle 27 kg (60 pounds) of gold into the country on Friday.

North Korea is under tight international sanctions that restrict its ability to move money through conventional means.

The diplomat was released, in accordance with diplomatic protocol, but Bangladesh asked North Korea to withdraw him.

“We told the ambassador to prosecute him 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 him that the government would take serious action if any embassy official is found to be involved in any crimes in future,” Haque told Reuters.

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.

Editing by Robin Pomeroy