A Macau government anti-money laundering watchdog received 966 suspicious transaction reports (STRs) in the first half of this year from casinos and other gaming companies, down 14.4 percent compared to the 1,128 reports in the same period last year.
The city’s Financial Intelligence Office posted a written statement on its website last week announcing the data for the period from January 1 to June 30.
The statement said the body received 1,376 reports of suspicious transactions from all sources in the first six months of this year, or 37.1 percent fewer than the 2,187 reports handled in the same period one year earlier. Reports of suspicious transactions received from the gaming sector accounted for 70.2 percent of the aggregate number of reports in the January to June period, a higher proportion than in the first half 2018.
The Financial Intelligence Office stated that the year-on-year decrease in the aggregate number of first-half suspicious transaction 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 381 reports of suspicious transactions in the six months to June 30, a decline of 38.2 percent relative to the 617 in the first half last year.
“Other” institutions – a category not further defined in the data released – made 29 reports of suspicious transactions in the first half, having made 411 in the same period one year earlier.
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 the city’s anti-money laundering rules, and repeated urging from the United States to bring down the threshold to US$3,000 to put Macau in line with what the U.S. says are international reporting standards.
Macau’s gaming operators filed 2,087 reports of suspicious transactions to the city’s Financial Intelligence Office last year – roughly on par with the previous year’s volume of reports.
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DS Kim, Amanda Cheng and Livy Lyu
Analysts at brokerage JP Morgan Securities (Asia Pacific)