US recognises Macau’s tighter anti-money laundering controls

Some 2,224 suspicious transaction reports were received by the Macau Financial Intelligence Office in 2020.
Some 2,224 suspicious transaction reports were received by the Macau Financial Intelligence Office in 2020.

The US Department of State has reported that Macau has started to “take anti-money laundering cases more seriously.”

Macau.- The US Department of State’s 2021 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report (INCSR) notes that the Macau government has made great strides in its anti-money laundering controls.

Some 2,224 suspicious transaction reports were received by the Macau Financial Intelligence Office in 2020. According to the INCSR, 54.6 per cent stemmed from the gaming sector.

The report also indicates that “in 2019, Macau prosecuted over 20 per cent of filed anti-money laundering cases (10 out of 48), a significant improvement from its historical prosecutorial rate of one to five per cent.”

Government officials believe the primary sources of laundered funds are gaming-related crime, property offences and fraud, and that Macau is likely a transit point and an end destination for such funds.

For the US Department of State, the anonymity gained through using junket operators and the absence of currency and exchange controls, are some of the weaknesses still faced by Macau.

Gaming academic Ryan Ho Hong Wai has recently called for Macau to make a “clear legal definition” to clarify the role of sub-agents in Macau.

Macau’s Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau (DICJ) has reported that while in 2013 there were 235 junket operators, there are now only 85 authorised to operate in the Special Administrative Region (SAR).

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