Legislative Assembly passes cash declaration bill

    Macau’s Legislative Assembly (AL) has passed a bill that would require visitors to disclose cash holdings of more than MOP 120,000 (US$15,000) at entry, local media reports.

    Entrants with more than MOP 120,000 will need to declare and disclose the amount brought into the MSAR via a red declaration channel. The system is aimed to combat money-laundering activities.

    “Visitors and residents are also required to disclose the amount if asked by Customs officers at departure of the local territory,” said the Director-general of Macao Customs Services, Alex Vong Iao Lek, during yesterday’s plenary session, quoted by Macau Business.

    “Otherwise, if the person is found to be in breach of the declaration and disclosure obligation, he or she will be fined from MOP 1,000 to MOP 500,000, or equivalent to 1 per cent to 5 per cent of the amount required to be declared and disclosed,” he added.

    Macau casino stocks took a hit when the proposed bill was first revealed in early December.

    Sands China Ltd. fell 5.5 percent to HK$35.90, while Galaxy Entertainment Group Ltd. dropped 5.1 percent. Wynn Macau Ltd. slipped 3.9 percent.

    While most analysts chalked the slump to be a simple “knee-jerk” reaction from investors, some experts believe it could have effects on the gaming industry.

    Recently, legislator Fong Chi Keong argued the new declaration system may affect the city’s gaming industry as many visitors liked to bring cash to Macau.

    “I think the new bill will have a negative impact upon the city’s gaming industry since most of our visitors are used to bringing a large amount of cash to Macau,” legislator Fong said.

    However, the change should not affect legal cash flows, this it should not have any significant effect on visitors, he said.