A British businessman's bid to buy a controlling stake in a North Korean bank may further complicate Pyongyang's efforts to recover $25 million in funds frozen in a Macau bank.
The move may further stall the progress of nuclear disarmament talks, which ground to a halt last week in Beijing over the issue.
The frozen funds at Macau's Banco Delta Asia were supposed to be transferred to a North Korean bank account in Beijing last week. But, unspecified technical reasons delayed the transaction, spurring Pyongyang to walk out of the talks.
U.S. officials have said the dispute will be resolved, but now a British businessman who is in a deal to buy a controlling stake in North Korea's Daedong Credit Bank, says about a quarter of the recover $25 million belongs to Daedong.
The businessman says he will take legal action against Macau authorities if the proposed transfer goes ahead without Daedong's approval.
U.S. Treasury official Daniel Glaser is in Beijing trying to resolve the financial dispute, and he met with North Korean diplomats late Monday to discuss the thorny issue.
The disputed funds were frozen in 2005 for investigation by Macau authorities after Washington accused Banco Delta Asia of helping North Korea launder money and other illicit financial activities.
In mid-March, the United States Treasury Department announced that it had completed its investigation into Banco Delta Asia and ruled that U.S. banks could no longer do business with the bank.
Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.