China central bank in pact with Macau to battle money laundering

A visitor (L) gets information at the Global Gaming Expo Asia in the world's biggest gambling hub of Macau on May 20, 2015. With casino revenues in Macau plummeting thanks to Beijing's anti-corruption crackdown and a slowdown in the Chinese economy, the gambling hub is seeking to reinvent itself as a family-friendly mass market destination as the high rollers stay away.
PHOTO: AFP

HONG KONG - China's central bank said on Friday it would bolster cross- border anti-money laundering measures with authorities in the gambling hub of Macau with the signing of a new memorandum of understanding.

The People's Bank of China (PBOC) and the Monetary Authority of Macau signed the pact to prevent money laundering and terrorist financing activities, the PBOC said in a statement.

In a notice on its website, the bank said the agreement would "strengthen bilateral exchanges", including those on anti-money laundering regulations, information exchange mechanisms and on-site inspections. (http://bit.ly/1Nq0JVn)

The notice did not give specific measures, however.

Macau's massive gambling sector has long been considered a money laundering blackspot, susceptible to unchecked capital flows in and out of China, including through China's state-backed China UnionPay debit cards. (http://reut.rs/1lYjktd)

A prominent Macau junket operator, who has been the focus of a lengthy police investigation, was recently accused of laundering HK$1.8 billion ($232 million) through bank accounts in Hong Kong. (http://reut.rs/1PpBYGx)

The PBOC also said the two sides would adopt recommendations from a global anti-money laundering body, the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), to strengthen regional supervision against money laundering.

The Macau government could not immediately be reached for comment.

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