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Macau: New AML law

On May 23 2017, Law 3/17, which amends the law on the prevention of money laundering activities – Law 2/2006 (AML Law) – came into force. (Further details of the objectives and particulars of the amendments can be found in the March 2017 Macau briefing here:

According to the government, the AML Law amendments further aim to protect the Macau Special Administrative Region's (MSAR) sustainable growth, its economic sector's safety and stability, and to position this SAR as an attractive platform for local and foreign investment.

These objectives were implemented through, among other measures, the strengthening of AML due diligence measures, the widening of the scope of identifiable predicate criminal offences – 'underlying crimes'– and a clarification on the autonomy between underlying crime and money laundering crime.

In particular, the recent amendments to section 3 of the AML Law (the definition of money laundering) focus on:

  • the possibility of an autonomous money laundering criminal conviction for the underlying crime perpetrator (self-laundering). Being an assumed criminal policy goal, it is likely this possibility of dual incrimination (for both the underlying crime and money laundering crime) will raise serious doubts as to violation of the ne bis in dem principle;
  • widening the underlying crime territorial/legal jurisdiction to all types of conduct that are considered a crime, irrespective of whether that conduct is considered a crime in a particular foreign jurisdiction. Taking into consideration that most instances of money laundering occurring in the MSAR have their origin in underlying crimes committed outside this jurisdiction (this being a consequence of the MSAR's status as a gaming hub), it is sufficient that the underlying crime is considered a crime in the MSAR (even if the action is not considered as such in the foreign jurisdiction where it was committed);
  • the abolition of the minimum limit (previously two years imprisonment) for a money laundering criminal conviction; this being a consequence of the widening of the scope of underlying crimes, which now encompasses some crimes with lower penalties (see also AML Law section 3 paragraph 8); and,
  • a clarification of the requested standard for determination of 'perpetrator fault'.
CoelhoRiquitoCarlos Eduardo Coelho and João Nuno Riquito

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