Macau Bank Dealt Gold for N Korea

Associated Press

Macau Bank at Center of Nuclear Talks Dealt Gold for North Korea

A small Macau bank accused of laundering money for North Korea also dealt gold for the reclusive country, with gold pieces flown in to the Chinese territory then carried to nearby Hong Kong and sold there, a news report said Wednesday.

Citing an audit report by the accounting firm Ernst & Young, the South China Morning Post said Banco Delta Asia’s ties to North Korea go back 30 years, and that besides accepting deposits, the bank also handled gold and silver sales for clients from the country worth $120 million.

The Post said six North Korean companies shipped gold pieces stamped with “Central Bank of North Korea” to Macau.

The gold was then moved to Banco Delta Asia’s Hong Kong subsidiary, Delta Asia Credit, by hand, then sold to a German trader, according to the Post.

Hong Kong is an hour by high-speed ferry from gambling enclave Macau.

The report says Banco Delta Asia’s North Korean business accounted for 22 percent its turnover during the 30 years, the Post reported.

The U.S. announced last month the bank would be blacklisted and blocked from doing business with American banks, a potentially crippling blow to most lenders.

The move came after American investigators accused the bank of helping North Korea launder money and handle counterfeit currency.

Macau’s Monetary Authority took control of the bank and froze about $25 million in North Korean funds. That enraged the North Koreans, who for more than a year boycotted the six-nation talks that aim to disarm the North’s nuclear program.

The bank has repeatedly denied knowingly helping in North Korea’s alleged illicit activities and said Monday it filed a challenge against the U.S. ruling.

It said it was a family-owned lender that lacked the sophisticated equipment and procedures to combat money laundering and counterfeiting.

Banco Delta Asia and Ernst & Young’s Macau office didn’t immediately respond to messages from The Associated Press.


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