A Macau government anti-money laundering watchdog received 507 suspicious transaction reports (STRs) in the first quarter of this year from casinos and other gaming companies – a decrease of about 6.7 percent compared to the 541 reports in the same period last year.
The city’s Financial Intelligence Office posted a written statement on its website on Monday announcing the data for the period from January 1 to March 31. It said the body received 699 reports of suspicious transactions from all sources in the first quarter of this year, or 30 percent fewer than the 909 reports handled in the same period one year earlier.
The entity added that the year-on-year decrease in the aggregate number of first-quarter reports was due mainly to non-gaming sector financial institutions and other entities making fewer of them. Non-gaming sector financial institutions in the city, including insurance companies, made 169 reports of suspicious transactions in the first quarter, having made 235 in the first quarter last year, a decline of 39.1 percent.
“Other” institutions – a category not further defined in the data released – made 23 reports of suspicious transactions in the first quarter, having made 133 in the same period one year earlier; a nearly fivefold decrease.
The latest annual report by the Department of State in the United States, regarding control globally of criminal financing of the narcotics trade, published in March, said that in spite of stricter supervision in Macau, loopholes in casino safeguards there made the city what it called a “major money-laundering jurisdiction”.
Macau has kept its “large-transaction” threshold for financial activity in Macau casinos at MOP500,000 (US$62,500). That is despite other updates to its anti-money laundering rules and repeated urging from the U.S. to bring down the threshold to US$3,000 to put the city in line with what the U.S. says are international reporting standards.
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“We see that basically the ‘golden’ periods [for Macau's casino industry] are all concentrated in the second half of this year”
Lei Wai Nong
Macau’s Secretary for Economy and Finance