North Korean diplomat caught smuggling gold
North Korean envoy caught smuggling 27 kg of gold in DhakaRuben Sprich/Reuters

Bangladesh authorities have caught a North Korean envoy smuggling 27kg of gold at Dhaka airport.

Son Yung Nam, first secretary at the North Korean diplomatic mission in Dhaka, was detained after his hand baggage containing 170 gold bars and jewellery was seized.

The detention lasted only a few hours as Nam enjoys diplomatic immunity under the Vienna Convention.

"Because of diplomatic immunity, he was not arrested but was kept for hours under customs custody. Following a statement, the authority has decided to release him under embassy custody," a senior official with Bangladesh's ministry of foreign affairs told The Daily Star.

The total worth of the gold seized from the envoy is believed to be about $1.4m (£922,500). He was thought to have travelled by a Singapore Airlines flight from Singapore. Though the North Korean attaché claimed he was returning from an official trip, he did not possess necessary travel documents, suggest local reports.

"He told our officials that there was nothing to scan. Later we informed our foreign ministry and he was released on Friday under the Vienna Convention," chairman of the National Board of Revenue Najibur Rahman told Reuters.

Criminal proceedings against the diplomat have also been initiated and the North Korean regime is to be informed of the incident through diplomatic channels.

Earlier, a North Korean diplomat was accused of being involved in illegal liquor trade in Pakistan.