Macau’s Legislative Assembly has approved in a final reading a government-proposed bill introducing a currency declaration requirement for all travellers to and from the jurisdiction. The new law will become effective on November 1, 2017.
The move, the government had said, would help fight the risk of money laundering in the city.
The bill approved on Wednesday proposes that people entering or leaving Macau who have cash or other “negotiable monetary instruments” – for instance, cheques payable to the holder, travellers’ cheques or gold coins – valued at MOP120,000 (US$15,000) or more in their possession, must submit to the Macau Customs Service a declaration form to that effect. The trigger amount for declarations will be set out in subsidiary regulations.
Submitted declaration forms will be kept by customs for a total of five years. After that time, the declarations will be destroyed if no suspicion of wrongdoing has come to the attention of the authorities.
Those who fail to comply with the proposed reporting rules can incur fines ranging from MOP1,000 up to MOP500,000.
The government had said that the bill followed recommendations to Macau by the Paris-based Financial Action Task Force (FATF) aiming to improve the city’s anti-money laundering measures.
Alex Vong Iao Lek, Director-General of the Macau Customs Service, on Wednesday said the government would be publicising the new rules prior to the law becoming effective. “This will allow the government to have enough time to promote the law in all checkpoints across Macau and through various media platforms,” Mr Vong said as quoted by local public broadcaster TDM.
A recent focus for the Macau government has been tighter controls on the large volumes of money flowing through the city’s casinos via VIP gambling. Such play is typically funded by credit issued by government-licensed gaming promoters – commonly referred to as junkets. They also arrange – via agents and sub-agents – collections on player gambling losses.
The Monetary Authority of Macao last week announced the establishment of a “Financial Security Expert Alliance”, in collaboration with the People’s Bank of China and the Hong Kong Monetary Authority. The announcement followed a meeting in Macau between senior officials of the three institutions.
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"Most investors believe that Macau is ‘uninvestable’. Our experience has been that when opinions are so unanimously negative, then the risk/reward is skewed to the upside"
Japanese brokerage Nomura