The $25m North Korean funds were blocked after the United States blacklisted the Macau-based Banco Delta Asia, accusing it of laundering illicit funds for the North.
 
A Macau government spokesman declined to comment on the report, saying, "Every minute the matter is changing... so we can't comment on this at the moment."
 
Money trail
 
North Korea's Kim Jong-il was accused of using
the Macau bank for money-laundering [Reuters]
Russia on Wednesday said it would allow the money to be channelled through one of its banks, which has yet to be identified.
 
In return for being a conduit for the money, Russia said it wanted a written undertaking from the US guaranteeing that it did not fall foul of sanctions against Pyongyang.
 
A Russian finance ministry source told the Itar-Tass news agency that the "appropriate operation was being prepared".
 
"In principle, we are ready," Alexander Losyukov, the deputy foreign minister, was quoted by Russian news agencies. "I do not know when this will happen, but we are talking days."
 
Russia is one of five regional powers, along with China, Japan, South Korea and the US, which have been negotiating with the impoverished North to end its nuclear weapons programme in exchange for massive economic aid.