The Eternal struggle

The latest figures reveal that casinos and banks make up 99 percent of money laundering reports Since 2007 there have been more than 2,700 reports of suspected money laundering – or suspected terrorist financing – made to the Macau authorities. Of that figure, 58 percent came from casinos and 41 percent from banks. The Macau Monetary and Foreign Exchange Authority (AMCM) administrator, António Félix Pontes, says since the enactment of the legislation against money laundering and terrorism financing in 2006, the number of complaints regarding suspicions of those crimes has increased from 725 in 2007 to 838 in 2008 and 1156 in 2009. Greater awareness He says this is due to a greater awareness of the dangers relating to money laundering and greater surveillance by the authorities, adding that the new rules have made customer identification mandatory. Also, the reporting of suspicious transactions by other economic professional sectors such as gaming, besides banks and insurers has been useful. On par with the casinos, from which 1,585 reports have come since 2007 to the Macau Financial Intelligence Office, the banking sector (receiving 1,101 complaints), real estate sector, pawnshops and land allocations are identified as being at higher risk of money laundering, the AMCM administrator said. Pontes believes the legislation is adequate, but there is still much to do, particularly regarding the qualification of professionals for the prevention and detection of crimes of money laundering and terrorism financing. Border declarations He advocates, for instance, the compulsory declaration at the border of any pocket money carried by those who are entering Macau, along with more supervision. To more effectively combat money laundering, the Macau Institute of Financial Services, chaired by Pontes, signed a cooperation protocol with the Association of Certified Anti-money Laundering Specialists (ACAMS, the English abbreviation) for the international certification and training of local professionals from banks, insurance companies, casinos and others. ACAMS has approximately 10,000 members in 160 countries, who receive monthly training on the risks and methods of money laundering and financing of terrorism, and international standards and investigation processes. Commitment “This agreement is a sign of commitment by the Macau government in combating money laundering, and aims to raise the level of technical expertise of professionals in the financial sector in line with international standards”, the regional head and director of ACAMS for the Asia Pacific, Hue Dang says. The association has similar partnerships with academic institutions and associations in the financial industry from mainland China, South Korea, Singapore and Taiwan.