A European Argentina

The Hypo Alpe Adria collapse rumbles on. Following the announcement by Austria’s Federal Markets Association (FMA) a few days ago that Heta, the “bad bank” created last year from the remnants of Hypo Alpe Adria (HAA), would be wound up, Moody’s has downgraded the rating of the Austrian province of […]

North Korean Diplomat Caught Smuggling 27 Kilos, Or $1.7 Million, In Gold

To some, gold is merely a tradition; to others, such as the first secretary of the North Korean embassy in the capital of Bangladesh, it is one of the easiest ways to smuggle $1.7 million. Or at least should have been on paper. Instead, what happened on Thursday night when Son Young-nam landed in Dhaka on a flight from Singapore, carrying a ridiculous amount of physical gold and hoping to get through customs without a glitch due his diplomatic status, things went downhill fast.

According to the BBC reports, Young-nam’s baggage was searched and almost 27 kilos, or 59 pounds, of gold bars and ornaments were recovered.

Initially the diplomat refused to allow customs officers and police to examine his luggage. “He insisted that his bags cannot be scanned because he’s carrying a red passport and he enjoys diplomatic immunity,” Moinul Khan, head of Bangladesh’s customs intelligence department told AFP.

Then “after more than four hours of drama, he gave in and we found gold bars and gold ornaments weighing 26.795kg (59lb), which is worth 130 million taka.” Or about $1.7 million dollars.

The customs head said the diplomat was told that more than 2kg of gold could not be brought into the country. Which means that now that the gold, nearly $2 million of it, now belongs to the great Bagladeshi void, after it was confiscated and the diplomat was released under the Vienna Convention.

Bangladeshi authorities have said they plan to prosecute Mr Son.

Khan added: “It’s a clear case of smuggling. We believe he would have sold the gold to a local criminal racket. He is being used as a carrier.”

And while the North Korean diplomat is the clear loser in this case, it is far more likely that the gold ultimately belonged to someone far closer to Kim Jong-un, if not the “fearless leader” himself. As WSJ adds:

Sales of gold have long been an important source of funds for the North Korean regime, which has been largely cut off from the global financial system by sanctions imposed to curb its nuclear-weapons program.

Anti-Netanyahu Protest Fills Streets Of Tel Aviv As Ex-Mossad Chief Calls His Congress Speech “Bullshit”

Following Benjamin Netanyahu's speech to the US Congress last week, Israel's former intelligence chief voiced his displeasure. As The Hill reports, Meir Dagan, a former Mossad director, strongly disagreed with many of Netanyahu’s assertions, stating that “Iranian missiles will never be able to hit the United States,” and that comments that Iran could producer nuclear weapons within a year were “bullshit.” But, as Mike Krieger notes below, it's not just just Dagan that is disappointed, a large protest against him erupted in the nation’s section largest city, Tel Aviv. It appears “Bibi” is far more popular with crazy American neocons than he is with his own fellow citizens.

Oil Producers Could See “Regime Change”: Bloomberg

As we’ve noted previously, the US-Saudi joint effort to force the Kremlin into cutting Assad loose (the end goal of course being to install a government that will acquiesce to mainlining Qatari natural gas through Syria straight into Europe thus breaking Gazprom’s stranglehold), has resulted in a bit of collateral damage for the world’s less geopolitically important oil producing countries (take Venezuela for instance, where collapsing crude prices have exacerbated an already abysmal scenario, leading to, among other tragic outcomes, a shortage of soap and condoms).