Macau will extend its
control of a blacklisted bank for six more months, officials said today, one
week after the lender's ties with the US financial system were cut off because
of its alleged involvement in illegal North Korean deals.
A government-appointed committee has been running Banco Delta Asia since 2005
when the family-owned lender was accused by Washington of helping North Korean
launder money and handle counterfeit currency. The committee's six-month tenure
was to expire on March 29 and could only be renewed one more time, The
Associated Press reported.
Wendy Au, a spokeswoman for Macau's Monetary Authority, said that the leader
of the special administration region's leader, Edmund Ho, decided to have the
committee oversee the bank for six more months. Au would not explain the
The bank has been a key issue in the six-nation talks aimed at dismantling
North Korea's nuclear programs. Macau authorities froze US$25 million in North
Korean funds, and Pyongyang has demanded the money be returned before the talks
Macau's Monetary Authority said Monday that it would follow the instructions
of the North Korean account holders, and the money was expected to be released
soon. But Macau officials have declined to say when the funds would be released,
and North Korea was growing impatient.
US Treasury Department officials have said that they shared with Macau
evidence that shows the bank was knowingly involved in illegal North Korea
activities. The bank has repeatedly denied the allegations.
Last week, Washington said it had wrapped up its investigation and that the
bank would be cut off from the US financial system.