Vietnamese authorities are set to investigate a Vietnam Airlines pilot and attendant for gold smuggling after the two got a suspended sentence from a South Korea court, the carrier said.
On March 10, Captain Nguyen Van Dung, 35, and Nguyen Tan Phong, 27, were arrested with six "undeclared" gold bars weighing 1kg each hidden in their shoes when their flight landed at Gimhae Airport in Busan.
According to the Korean media, Dung and Phong told the police they were paid US$250 for every kilogram of gold they smuggled.
On May 29 a Busan court handed them a suspended sentence and ordered that they should be handed over to Vietnamese authorities.
Dung and Phong, who arrived at Hanoi’s Noi Bai Airport on June 5, have been handed over to the police, according to Vietnam Airlines.
The airline promised tough action against the duo and to review check-in procedures for flight crew to prevent similar crimes.
The case comes as a puzzle since gold prices in Vietnam are higher than elsewhere, meaning smuggling it out makes little commercial sense.
Tran Thanh Hai, chief executive officer of Vietnam Gold Business, was quoted by Tuoi Tre (Youth)newspaper as saying that the gold may have been taken as payment for some transactions since it is easier to hide than cash.
Another expert told the newspaper that the gold could have been brought from a third country into Vietnam before being smuggled to South Korea.
Last December another Vietnam Airlines flight attendant had been arrested at Busan with eight kilograms of gold, according to a report on busanhaps.com.