The Asia/Pacific Group on Money Laundering (APG) recognised the “improvement” in the role of Macau’s casino regulator, the Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau – a body also known as DICJ in Portuguese acronym – regarding anti-money laundering (AML), and combatting the financing of terrorism (CFT) in the city’s casino industry.
Such recognition was part of the the Asia Pacific Group’s Mutual Evaluation Follow-up Report 2021 on the Macau Special Administrative Region, said Macau’s Financial Intelligence Office, in response to an enquiry from GGRAsia.
The report has not been made public. There was “no change in the overall ratings” of the Asia Pacific Group regarding Macau’s technical compliance on AML and CFT work, relative to the Mutual Evaluation Follow-up Report on Macau that had been released and made public in 2019, according to the Financial Intelligence Office.
The office told GGRAsia that in the 2021 follow-up report, the Asia Pacific Group “takes note of the improvement in the regulatory role of DICJ, where a designated division with AML/CFT supervision and compliance power has been set up.”
As part of a general expansion effort, in September last year, DICJ held a swearing-in ceremony for 14 new managers – either departmental or divisional chiefs – respectively responsible for functions including legal matters and licensing, auditing and compliance, and the overall regulation of the city’s gaming concessionaires, junkets, and gaming technology, including any investigations that might be required.
Macau’s Financial Intelligence Office – also known by its Portuguese-language acronym GIF – told GGRAsia: “Over these few years, GIF has been working with DICJ and extending outreach to the gaming sector to further refine,” suspicious transaction report “reporting quality, with the aim to capture more precisely, suspicious transactions.”
Flagged events had included transactions related to junkets, the office further noted to us. However, it provided neither a specific figure on how many junket-related suspicious transactions had been filed in recent years, nor their type.
In aggregate 1,330 suspicious transaction reports were filed by the city’s gaming operators in 2021, up by 9.5 percent from 2020. The tally of such reports stood at 1,913 in 2019, the last trading year prior to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The Financial Intelligence Office told GGRAsia that it did not observe any “significant changes” in the types of suspicious transaction filed by the gaming sector, since the advent of the pandemic.
The three commonest forms of suspicious transaction flagged in Macau in 2019, were: “irregular large cash withdrawals”; “significant cash deposit with non-verifiable source of funds” and; “chips conversion without/with minimal gambling activities”, according to the Financial Intelligence Office’s 2019 annual report. Those were also the commonest scenarios in 2020, according to the latest available data released by that office.
“Through continuous outreach and meetings, the quality of the suspicious transaction reports reported by the gaming sector has shown steady improvement over the past decade,” the Financial Intelligence Office told GGRAsia.
“Areas of improvement include enhanced due diligence and ongoing monitoring on gaming transactions,” it added.
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