Macau (MNA) – Macau and Hong Kong are major facilitators for transnational crime money laundering according to a report conducted by Associate Professor John Langdale of the Department of Security Studies and Criminology, Macquarie University.

According to a presentation on the report findings that Mr. Langdale prepared for Australian intelligence officers in the country’s anti-money laundering agency Austrac, to which Macau News Agency (MNA) had access, both cities were described as having ‘well established networks of facilitators skilled at shifting money overseas via offshore banking and finance’.

The report stated that Guangdong and the Southern China region are significant supply sources of illegal drugs such as methamphentamines and counterfeit goods, while having a significant presence of crime syndicates involved in illegal betting, illegal timber, ivory and ‘fake CEO’ scams.

According to the security expert, Hong Kong and Macau ‘play a significant role in facilitating transnational financial crime, Hong Kong because of its role as an Asian and global financial and banking centre, and Macau due to the scale of its gaming sector and ‘history of facilitating money laundering and capital flight.’

In the presentation, Langdale suggested that Australian authorities should expand their existing joint work with Chinese law enforcement authorities and encourage the country’s authorities to more strictly regulate the Chinese chemical industry and limit the production of precursor chemicals.

From China to the world

As case studies, the academic mentioned alliances between Colombian and Chinese criminal gangs, which traffic cocaine to Hong Kong for China and Asia Pacific markets, while performing money laundering from Colombia to Hong Kong as well as through Macau casinos.

The presentation also mentioned a possible involvement between North Korean and Chinese criminal syndicates in the 2016 Bangladesh Bank cyber heist, in which hackers stole more than US$81 million from the bank’s New York accounts.

According to the report, the money was wired by hackers to Philippines bank Rizal Commercial Banking Corp., with Langdale stating Chinese criminals provided the links to the bank and to the high rollers and Macau junket operators who allegedly helped wire the stolen money to North Korea.

Langdale’s report also defined what is described as the ‘Vancouver Model,’ in which the Canadian region of Vancouver, together with Hong Kong and Macau, formed a money laundering black market financed by intricate Chinese underground banking networks.

The report led to a large police operation by the Canadian state of British Columbia (B.C.), which uncovered an alleged money laundering and underground banking network connected to Macau VIP high rollers, leading also to a major expose this year on the issue by Canadian news outlet Global News.

The security expert said that due to Guangdong’s rapid economic growth, internal migration, and considerable population – more than 100 million people – Chinese authorities have  a ‘limited understanding of criminal activity.’

Langdale also warned that if measures were not taken, Sydney could become a regional hub for Chinese transnational crime as happened in Vancouver, with money laundering channelled into high-end real estate, and through high-roller tables in Sydney’s casinos or Chinese and Australian bank transfers.