A Vietnam Airlines cabin attendant has been apprehended in Japan on suspicion of attempting to smuggle stolen goods from Japan to Vietnam, Kyodo News quoted Japanese police as saying on Wednesday.
Nguyen Bich Ngoc, 25, allegedly tried to transport 21 items of clothes worth 125,000 yen (US$1,200) on a bus specific for Vietnam Airlines’ staff from a hotel in Osaka Prefecture to Kansai International Airport last September, according to the report.
She was believed to be smuggling the clothes for a 30-year-old Vietnamese woman in Japan, who has been indicted for buying stolen goods, it said.
She is also suspected of having transported stolen goods worth 3 million yen ($29,300) since last June.
The flight attendant has denied the accusation, saying she did not know that the clothes were stolen. But she said many of her colleagues smuggled goods into Vietnam to earn extra income, according to the news report
About 20 other employees of Vietnam Airlines were also allegedly involved in smuggling, and Tokyo police have asked five of them – a co-pilot and four cabin attendants who are currently outside Japan – to submit to the police.
Police searched the carrier’s office in Tokyo, the report said.
Vietnamese online newspaper VnExpress reported that a representative of Vietnam Airlines worked with Japanese police at the airline’s office on Wednesday morning to provide information and documents necessary for the investigation.
A deputy general director of the carrier, meanwhile, met the Ministry of Public Security’s economic security department regarding the case.
The carrier’s spokesman was quoted as saying that they would cooperate with investigative agencies without covering up for anyone.
Violators would be strictly punished, the spokesman said.
In an effort to cope with rampant smuggling by flight crews, Vietnam Airlines last week banned their staff from carrying large suitcases.
In 2009, Japanese police also arrested Dang Xuan Hop, a Vietnam Airlines pilot, on suspicion of smuggling.
He was kept in custody for a few months in Japan before local police dropped charges against him.
But Vietnam Airlines still suspended him from flying for one year.
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