‘Illegal’ junket deposits in Macau could be penalized

"Illegal" junket deposits in Macau could be penalized

Macau officials want to ensure that the city remains clean. Authorities there have become “highly concerned” about “unlawful deposits” of cash made with the junket industry in Macau and is considering new regulations to help ensure that companies operate within the boundaries of the law.

"Illegal" junket deposits in Macau could be penalizedThe Secretary for Economy and Finance in Macau, Lionel Leong Vai Tac, said on Monday that the city is prepared to introduce “severe penalties” against those who make “illegal” deposits, GGRAsia reported. However, Leong did not provide any details on how or on whom the penalties would be assessed.

According to investment analysts, the deposits are usually made by citizens who want to provide liquidity for Macau’s VIP gambling industry. They stipulate interest rates that are substantially higher than those found via the regulated financial system and, since they are not attributable to regulatory oversight, can produce massive financial losses for individuals if there are any problems in the junket sector.

This has already happened at least once. In 2015, Dore Entertainment Co. Ltd., a junket operator in Macau, was the victim of fraud after a former employee conducted unauthorized transactions that may have led to at least $25.8 million stolen from the company.

Leong hinted at the new penalties during a Q&A with members of Macau’s Legislative Assembly. That Q&A came on the heels of the recent Policy Address for 2019 and included questions on the direction policies and monitoring for the city’s gaming industry is headed.

The Q&A was also attended by Paulo Martins Chan, the director of Macau’s Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau. He added, “We would like to eliminate the problems relating to the [junket promoters’] taking of the unlawful deposits through the amendment bill regulating the junkets…Meanwhile we’re also raising the market entry threshold [for junket promotion business] and to increase the required amount of shareholding held by Macau residents in a junket firm.”

Both Leong and Chan were asked about what will happen with the upcoming casino license expirations, but didn’t provide many details. When asked about whether or not more concessions could be allowed, Leong asserted, in a noncommittal fashion typical of good politicians, “We are listening to social opinions on the issue and will continue to work on it. After the present [gaming concession] contract is over, we’ll be inclined to conduct an open tender.” He added that more discussion would be held, but didn’t elaborate on specific details.