Macau’s secretary of economy and finance said Thursday the money has been transferred, but it remained unclear if it was the entire amount or whether it had reached its destination.
“Banco Delta Asia transferred more than $20 million out of the bank this afternoon in accordance with the client’s instruction,” Francis Tam told reporters on the sidelines of a business gathering, without saying where the money was sent.
“We have heard reports in foreign media that the money can be wired via the U.S. or Russia, for example. I think these routings are possible,” Tam said.
North Korea had $25 million at the bank in the Chinese territory, but Tam would not say exactly how much was transferred.
“Most of the money in this account has already transferred out. There will probably not be another transfer,” he said.
Japan’s Kyodo news agency quoted Macau authorities as saying the funds would move along a highly unusual route first to the U.S. Federal Reserve New York branch, then to Russia’s central bank and finally to a Russian bank.
“It was a one-time, technical solution and did not quite allow North Korea’s integration into the international financial system,” said North Korea expert Paik Hak-soon at Seoul’s Sejong Institute.