Macau’s Financial Intelligence Office (GIF) has reported that 817 suspicious transaction reports (STR) were filed by city financial entities and gaming operators, a rise of 13.5% compared with the same period in 2022, in which there were 720 reports.
The increase is attributed to a rise in the number of STRs submitted by the gaming sector, which accounted for 72.8% of the total. There were 595 suspicious gambling transaction reports from operators, a year-on-year increase of 44.1%.
Meanwhile, the financial watchdog received 157 STRs from financial and insurance institutions and 65 from what is listed as “other institutions,” representing a year-on-year decrease of 28% and 27%, respectively.
The GIF received 2,199 total STRs in 2022, a decrease of 9.7% when compared with 2021. At the time, the decrease was attributed to lower activity related to the gaming industry, which has been maintaining a report rate of between 50% to 55% of all reports annually. Of the 2,199 reports made in 2022, only 62 (2.82%) were referred to the Public Prosecutions Office due to indications of potential criminal activity.
The GIF is responsible for collecting and analyzing suspicious transaction reports submitted by different reporting entities, as well as inputting data gleaned through these reports into the database and referring reported cases deemed suspicious to public prosecutors.
The department had previously noted that reports on suspected money laundering typically originated from irregularly large cash withdrawals, significant cash deposits with unverifiable sources, and the conversion of gaming chips, whether or not accompanied by minimal gambling activity.
During the first quarter, Macau’s accumulated GGR reached MOP34.64 billion ($4.29 billion), a 95% yearly increase but down 54.5% compared to the same period in 2019.
In March, Macau casinos posted their best gaming month since January 2020, delivering gross gaming revenue (GGR) of MOP 12.738 billion ($1.58 billion), according to information from the Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau. The figure represents a 23% improvement from February, but most notably, a 247% surge compared to March 2022.