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Macau: US exposes dirty laundry of a 'willing pawn'

The long arm of the US law has reached the tiny enclave of Macau, the special administrative region of China famous for its casinos and racy nightlife.

In September, the US Treasury issued a statement under the USA Patriot Act designating a tiny Macanese lender, Banco Delta Asia, as a primary money laundering concern. "Banco Delta Asia has been a willing pawn for the North Korean government to engage in corrupt financial activities through Macau," reads the statement.

The statement also claims that BDA has provided financial services to North Korean government agencies and front companies for more than 20 years and has even tailored its services to meet the needs of what the US Treasury claims is the bank's largest client. These services include handling precious metal sales, and helping "North Korean agents conduct surreptitious, multi-million dollar cash deposits and withdrawals". BDA has also helped to circulate counterfeit currency, including US dollars, and to smuggle counterfeit tobacco products, the US Treasury alleges. If aiding and abetting America's sworn enemy was not enough, for good measure the statement claims that BDA services a multi-million dollar account for a known international drug trafficker.

The US Treasury statement prompted a run on the bank's eight branches in Macau by concerned depositors worrying about an impending collapse.

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