DHAKA (Reuters) – Bangladesh has expelled a senior North Korean diplomat after accusing him of smuggling almost half a million dollars worth of banned cigarettes and electronic goods, a government minister said on Monday.

File photo of North Korean flag flying on a mast at the Permanent Mission of North Korea in Geneva
FILE PHOTO – A North Korean flag flies on a mast at the Permanent Mission of North Korea in Geneva October 2, 2014. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse/File Photo

Han Son Ik, first secretary of the North Korean embassy in Dhaka, is the country’s second senior diplomat to have been expelled from Bangladesh in as many years for allegedly bringing contraband into the country.

“The Bangladesh government has asked the North Korean embassy to expel the concerned diplomat without delay,” said Mohammad Shahriar Alam, the junior minister for external affairs.

Calls to the North Korean embassy went unanswered.

Customs officials seized the smuggled goods valued at 35 million taka ($447,000 or 342,633.76 pounds), Moinul Islam Khan, head of intelligence at Bangladesh customs, told Reuters.

Bangladesh expelled a previous North Korean first secretary in March last year after he was caught smuggling 27 kg (60 lb) of gold – worth $1.4 million – into the country, officials said at the time.

North Korea is under tight international sanctions that restrict its ability to move money through conventional means.

(Reporting By Serajul Quadir; Editing by Tommy Wilkes, Robert Birsel)