Macau’s Financial Intelligence Office said it received 1,687 suspicious transactions reports (STRs) from gaming operators in the first nine months of this year, up 11.4 percent compared to 1,514 reports for the same period last year.
The proportion of suspicious transaction reports lodged by gaming industry operators however fell as a proportion of the total complaints handled by the Financial Intelligence Office, to 54.8 percent of the total so far this year, down from 65.2 percent in the first nine months of last year.
In the data released this month, the intelligence office said the overall number of reports it received grew by 32.5 percent year-on-year in the nine months to September 30. The number of reports of suspicious transactions the office received from all sources was 3,079 in the first nine months of 2018.
“The change was mainly due to the significant increase in the number of STRs reported by financial institutions and other institutions,” said the watchdog.
The number of suspicious transactions reported by financial institutions, including insurance companies, rose to 912 from 598, accounting for 29.6 percent of the aggregate number of STRs in the period. The number reported by other institutions rose to 480 from 211, said the bureau.
In 2016, the Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau revised its anti-money laundering rules. The new provisions from the gaming regulator tightened the reporting rules but kept the threshold set for casinos to report “large” transactions at MOP500,000 (US$62,500). The revised rules came into effect on May 13, 2016.
The U.S. State Department has repeatedly asked Macau to reduce the transaction reporting threshold to the equivalent of US$3,000. It says this would bring Macau into line with international reporting standards.
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"We [estimate] that these illegal [currency exchange] transactions account for somewhere between 50 percent to 60 percent [of Macau's annual gross gaming revenue]”
Managing partner at IGamiX Management and Consulting