In Q3, Macau casinos filed less suspicious transaction reports (STRs), while China’s special administrative area won international attention for strengthening its earlier shortcomings in anti-money laundering (AML).
Last week, the Financial Intelligence Office of Macau (known by its Portuguese acronym GIF) announced a nearly one-third decline in the number of STRs filed to September 30 in the nine months. During that time, 1,382 STRs were filed by local gaming operators, down 18.1 percent from last year’s same period.
Nonetheless, in the first three quarters of 2019, the gaming industry accounted for 66.2% of the total of 2,089 STRs filed with the GIF, up from 54.8% through the first nine months of 2018. On the plus side, 70.2 percent of all STRs filed in H1 2019 are portrayed by the gaming industry, so the statistics are rising as the year goes at.
The Asia / Pacific Group on Money Laundering (APG), which found numerous faults with Macau’s AML efforts in its December 2017 Mutual Evaluation Report (MER), highlighted Macau earlier this month for praise. According to the follow-up report, Macau had strengthened in the 2017 MER comprehensive “addressing technical compliance deficiencies.”
In managing customer due diligence and other steps, including employee testing, the 2017 MER rated Macau ‘ partially compliant.’ It was found in APG’s follow-up report found that Macau fixed most of these deficiencies, improving the’ partially compliant’ grades to’ widely compliant.’ The 2017 MER also noted that Macau did not have any reporting or declaration procedures for cross-border cash transfers, whether incoming or outgoing, resulting in a’ non-compliant’ rating for handling cash couriers.
Follow-up by the APG has upgraded the’ non-compliant’ rating to’ partially compliant,’ although there are still’ minor weaknesses’ in cross-border money movement, including what the APG considers to be an inadequate’ proportionate and dissuasive punishment’ by those carrying cash for false or non-declaration / disclosure.
Macau becomes the first APG member to receive a good substantive compliance score on all the Financial Action Task Force’s 40 recommendations as a result of the new grading. The follow-up study of the APG was undertaken by experts from a variety of countries, including the terrorist funding and financial crime unit of a representative of the U.S. Treasury Department.