North Korea has decided to have its ambassador to Switzerland Han Tae-song return home as the top diplomat faces allegations of smuggling ivory tusks of elephants.
Japan’s Kyodo News quoted a related official as saying on Thursday that the panel of experts of the UN Security Council Sanctions Committee on North Korea and Swiss authorities launched investigations into Han, who concurrently serves as the North’s permanent representative to the UN Office at Geneva.
The report said Pyongyang apparently instructed Han to return home to have him avoid such investigations.
The UN experts’ panel had requested Botswana, South Africa, Mozambique and Zimbabwe to provide data on Han and a North Korean intelligence agent on suspicion that the two North Koreans smuggled ivory and rhinoceros bones on November 19.
Botswana’s media had earlier reported in September that Han and another figure were involved in smuggling at least 19 ivories and 18 rhino bones between last year and this year from Botswana into Mozambique via South Africa and Zimbabwe.
Han has been serving in his current position since 2017.
In 1992, he was deported while serving a post in Zimbabwe for allegedly smuggling rhino bones.
As a means to earn foreign currency, the North is said to be involved in smuggling ivories and rhino bones which are traded at a high price in China where they are used to make medicine.