Macau ends its management of troubled Banco Delta Asia

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HONG KONG, Sept 28 (Reuters) Macau will return control of Banco Delta Asia to its owner on Saturday, two years after seizing the reins of the bank when the U.S. Treasury accused it of helping North Korea launder money.

''Through the efforts of the appointed administrative board and related parties, the bank's management has improved markedly,'' the Macau government said in a statement on Friday. The tiny bank became a focal point of the North Korean nuclear crisis when Macau froze million in assets linked to Pyongyang. For the next year, North Korea refused to engage in six-way talks on its nuclear programmes demanding the return of its money first.

Bank owner Stanley Au had denied the laundering accusations and pressed to have management returned.

According to the Macau government statement, the administrative board's stewardship of Banco Delta Asia was due to expire on Friday.

The government would not renew it.

In June, the Banco Delta Asia hurdle was removed when North Korea agreed to a deal under which it would recover the frozen funds and receive energy aid, security guarantees and better diplomatic standing in return for scrapping its nuclear arms programmes.

The six-party talks are currently under way in Beijing.

REUTERS PBB RN1539

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