Spy work helps ex-KGB agent escape drink-driving conviction in New Zealand

AUCKLAND (AFP) - A former KGB agent in the Soviet era has escaped a drink-drive charge in New Zealand so he can continue his work as a consultant to foreign intelligence agencies, a report said on Sunday.

Mr Alexander Kouzminov, 57, recorded a breath alcohol reading twice the legal limit in New Zealand.

But his lawyer successfully argued in the Auckland District Court that a conviction would mean he lost the right to travel to many countries where he assisted intelligence agencies.

Judge David Burns said Mr Kouzminov's breath alcohol reading was "very high" but said "the spectacular fall from grace" of losing his work would be too high a price to pay, the Sunday Herald reported.

New Zealand-based Mr Kouzminov was described in court as a member of a secret nuclear biological and chemical warfare society with a high-level security clearance.

Before arriving in New Zealand from Russia with his wife and two children in 1994, Mr Kouzminov reportedly worked for a top secret cell within the KGB known as "Directorate S".

It developed biological weapons for terrorist and sabotage acts against the West during the 1980s and early 1990s, the report said.