Macau’s Public Prosecutions Office has called for the government to study the feasibility of fresh steps – possibly including specific legislation – to counter unauthorised money exchange practices, which the office says are a particular issue in the city’s casinos or their surroundings.
The Public Prosecutions Office analysis of the topic is in its recently-published work report for 2019. It noted that what it called “unpermitted money exchange activities” – when taking place between private parties “in casinos or their surroundings” – were not criminal matters, on the basis there was no specific law to regulate such activity.
In Macau, money exchange trade in general terms comes under the city’s financial regulatory framework.
But the Public Prosecutions Office said in its latest work report: “…these [illicit] money exchange activities could potentially conceal or induce crimes of another nature, such as money laundering, scams or robberies.”
It added: “From the analysis of the police, these kinds of private money-exchange activities have often led to other crimes,” and this had been a “widening trend” .
The Office of the Secretary for Security in Macau released in March this year a set of data indicating that local police had seen a rise in gaming-related alleged scams in 2019. Commentary accompanying the figures stated that individuals who tried to use unregulated money exchange often fell victim to scams such as being passed counterfeit notes in return for their genuine money, or were conned out of their funds when trying to effect a money transfer.
The Public Prosecutions Office suggested the Macau government should consider specific legislation to regulate money exchange activities, in view of the current lack of a “good formula” to address the issue in or around local casinos.
The idea of making such money exchange “criminal”, deserved “further studies” and a “prudent approach” by the city’s legal affairs department and the public as a whole, the Public Prosecutions Office concluded in its work report. The office added it strove for “a balance between the free exchange of currencies and combatting gains from the illicit money exchange trade”.
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”Our own consensus is that any newcomers to this [junket] sector should be corporatised, and should be financially sound and able to commit a higher guarantee deposit”
Kwok Chi Chung
President of junket trade body, the Macau Association of Gaming and Entertainment Promoters