Officials from Israel's customs agency nabbed a French consul employee on Tuesday after the latter tried to smuggle into the country 152 kilogrammes of gold bars plus 500 kilogrammes of tobacco as well as checks amounting to $2 million.
Local reports did not release the identity of the French consul worker, but it was learned that he was a driver and in charge of the Jerusalem consulate's garage in Israel. He was found actually using the diplomatic vehicle at the time of his arrest.
The man was trying to cross the Allenby border checkpoint when the strong smell of tobacco from his vehicle prompted Israeli customs officials to flag him down for questioning and to search the automobile.
The French driver initially refused, claiming his job's diplomatic immunity. He specifically cited his car's "diplomatic plates" as well as his personal "service passport," a type of passport issued to staff working in consulates.
But Israeli customs officials did not believe his story. They then called their superiors who then called the French consulate. Consulate officials in turn called officials from the Foreign Affairs Ministry in Paris who advised to allow the search-up of the vehicle.
The search-up eventually yielded 152 kilogrammes of gold bars believed to be worth over $6.5 million, 500 kilogrammes of tobacco, $2 million in checks as well as hundreds of new cellphones.
The consul driver had since been deported back to France but it remained unclear if charges have been filed against him in his own homeland.
Vincent Floriani, a spokesman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Paris, stressed during an interview with FRANCE 24 that the driver was travelling on his own account and not on behalf of the embassy at the time of his arrest.
To report problems or to leave feedback about this article, e-mail:
To contact the editor, e-mail: