Two crew members of Vietnam Airlines have been detained in South Korea since March 10 for allegedly smuggling 6 kg of gold in their shoes, according to Vietnamese aviation authorities.
Captain Nguyen Van Dung and flight attendant Nguyen Tan Phong of Flight VN426 from Hanoi were arrested at Gimhae Airport in Pusan after airport customs officers found they were bringing “undeclared gold” into South Korea, officials at the Civil Aviation Authority of Vietnam (CAAV) said at a press briefing this afternoon.
According to South Korean media, the customs officers found 6 gold bars, weighing 1 kg each, hidden in their shoes. The captain had four gold bars, and the flight attendant two, the reports said.
According to a report broadcast on YTN TV station, the two suspects said they were paid US$250 per kilogram of smuggled gold.
Local media also reported that the case has been turned over to the police on April 13.
Vietnam Airlines, however, said it has not received any official information about the case from South Korean authorities.
In 2012, Vietnamese authorities busted a large smuggling that involved several Vietnam Airlines crew members.
The CAAV officials said they and the national flag carrier are closely following the case.
Last December, another Vietnam Airlines flight attendant was arrested at the same South Korea airport for smuggling 8 kg of gold, according to a report
on the website busanhaps.com.
The man, identified as Mr. N, “tried to pass immigration and custom inspections by hiding the gold bars around his calves.”
Also in Gimhae Airport, customs officials nabbed nine Taiwanese nationals for allegedly smuggling 60.75 kg of gold into the country by hiding it in their rectums in July 2013.
According to a Bloomberg report
last year, purchasing gold bars is “a common way to hide income in South Korea, where a shadow economy of unreported buying and selling accounts for a quarter of gross domestic product.”
ANZ in March forecast that rising incomes in Asia, including South Korea, will increase gold demand as people purchase more jewelry and continue to channel savings into gold for cultural reasons.