MSAR no longer of ‘primary concern’ for money laundering


Macau is no longer on the list of jurisdictions considered to be of ‘primary concern’ for money laundering and financial crimes, according to the recent International Narcotics Control Strategy Report (INCSR) of the Department of State of the United States.
The annual report by the Department of State of Congress comprises two parts: a chapter on drug and chemical control activities, with the other on money laundering and financial crimes.
In 2016, the U.S. Department of State considered Macau a ‘jurisdiction of primary concern,’ with the main sources of laundered funds, derived from local and overseas criminal activity – not ensuing from the drug trade but rather from ‘gaming-related crimes, property offences, and fraud,’ according to the official body.
The U.S. authorities said in the 2016 report that the reliance of Macau’s gaming industry upon ‘the anonymity gained through the use of the junket operator in the transfer and commingling of funds, as well as the absence of currency and exchange controls, present vulnerabilities for money laundering.’
The city’s gaming industry has experienced tumbles from mid-2014 to the most part of 2016 amid the nationwide anti-graft campaign by the Administration of Chinese President Xi Jingping.
Since early 2016, local authorities have tightened Anti-Money Laundering (AML) regulations for gaming operations.
On the other hand, the U.S. Department of State maintained China on the list of countries of primary concern in its 2017 report.
‘China’s geographical location, vast land area, massive population, and expanding economy have all contributed to it becoming a hub for illicit drug consumption, drug and precursor chemical production and trafficking, and money laundering activities,’ the report reads.
Hong Kong was also kept on the 2017 list in addition to other Asian locations in which gaming is legal such as the Philippines, Laos, Vietnam, South Korea and Cambodia.