A pair of Ukrainian diplomats have been recalled after being arrested for trying to smuggle 16kg of gold, thousands of packets of cigarettes and tens of thousands of dollars into neighboring Poland, officials said.
A driver for Ukraine’s embassy in Warsaw and an attache for consular affairs were detained by Ukrainian border guards on Sunday after being stopped in an official minibus at a checkpoint on their way to Poland.
Two other officials were also allegedly involved in the attempted smuggling, including the attache’s father, who works at the embassy, Ukraine’s state investigative bureau said in a statement on Monday. Investigators have accused the driver and the attache of attempting to illegally take goods into the European Union (EU) “using diplomatic immunities and privileges, as well as official transport.”
The duo were reportedly caught red-handed with more than $200,000 in euro, Polish zlotys and dollars, as well as the gold and more than 8,000 packs of cigarettes, worth more than $50,000.
On Monday, Ukrainian Foreign Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Dmytro Kuleba confirmed he had sacked the two staff and said it was “important” that an example is made of them.
“I immediately withdrew both employees from a long-term foreign business trip. Their embassy work is over. In the next couple of hours, all formalities on this issue will be completed,” he said in a statement on Facebook.
“I will never cover villains who think they can use diplomatic status not to serve the state and the people, but for personal illicit enrichment,” he added.
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Cigarette smuggling is rife in some Ukrainian border areas, where tobacco prices are lower than in EU nations, such as Poland.
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