Macau casinos filed fewer suspicious transaction reports (STR) in Q3, while the special administrative region of China received international praise for improving its earlier anti-money laundering (AML) deficiencies.
Last week, Macau’s Financial Intelligence Office (known by its Portuguese acronym GIF) reported a nearly one-third decline in the number of STRs filed in the nine months to September 30. During that period, local gaming operators filed 1,382 STRs, down 18.1% from the same period last year.
However, the gaming industry accounted for 66.2% of the total 2,089 STRs filed with the GIF during the first three quarters of 2019, up from 54.8% through the first nine months of 2018. On the plus side, the gaming industry accounted for 70.2% of all STRs filed in H1 2019, so the numbers are improving as the year goes on.
Earlier this month, Macau was singled out for praise by the Asia/Pacific Group on Money Laundering (APG), which had found numerous faults with Macau’s AML efforts in its December 2017 mutual evaluation report (MER). The follow-up report determine that Macau had improved in “addressing technical compliance deficiencies” detailed in the 2017 MER.
The 2017 MER rated Macau ‘partially compliant’ in its handling of customer due diligence and other measures, including employee screening. The APG’s follow-up report found that Macau had addressed most of these deficiencies, upgrading the ‘partially compliant’ grades to ‘largely compliant.’
The 2017 MER also noted that Macau had no disclosure or declaration protocols for cross-border cash transfers, whether incoming or outgoing, leading to a ‘non-compliant’ grade for its handling of cash couriers.
The APG’s follow-up upgraded the ‘non-compliant’ grade to ‘partially compliant,’ although it there are still “minor shortcomings” regards to cross-border cash movement, including what the APG views as an insufficiently “proportionate and dissuasive sanction of false or non-declaration/disclosure” by those transporting cash.
As a result of the new grading, Macau becomes the first APG member to secure a positive technical compliance rating on all 40 recommendations of the Financial Action Task Force. The APG’s follow-up report was conducted by experts from a variety of countries, including a member of the US Treasury Department’s terrorist financing and financial crimes unit.