July 8, 2024 3 min read


Fact-checked by Angel Hristov

China Cracks Down on Macau Money Exchange Gangs

Individuals in China face a $50,000 yearly limit on foreign currency purchases, creating the perfect circumstances for illegal exchanges to take root

In a continued effort to dismantle criminal networks, China’s Ministry of Public Security recently convened a critical meeting in Beijing to discuss the persistent issue of Macau’s “money exchange gangs.” Officials emphasized the necessity of maintaining a stringent, high-pressure crackdown on these illicit groups, which have long plagued the region and violate the country’s strict currency policies.

Such Operations Can Facilitate Other Crime

According to Chinese authorities, Macau had become a hub for these money exchange gangs, which provided large-scale money exchange and often had ties to gambling operations. Their illicit nature meant that such groups often had ties to other organized crime organizations, channeling substantial funds outside China and potentially threatening the region’s stability as they expand their business.

Law enforcement figures for the first quarter of this year indicate a substantial increase in crimes attributed to money exchange gangs, rising to 149 from 112 for the same period in 2023. Illegal currency exchange currently qualifies as an administrative offense according to Chinese law and is usually only subject to fines, but the government is reportedly considering criminalizing this practice.

Despite legislative difficulties in pursuing such operations, Chinese authorities have established a comprehensive work plan to combat these gangs. The primary focus of the recent meeting was to assess the effectiveness of ongoing measures and to strategize future actions against illegal activities stemming from these networks and their connections to other types of organized crime.

Authorities Remain Confident in Their Success

Ministry of Public Security officials highlighted their dedication to addressing the situation, deploying mainland authorities to enhance cooperation with Macau’s police forces. In recent operations, Guangdong police successfully dismantled three major exchange fraud syndicates, which utilized counterfeit “practicing coupons” (non-genuine banknotes for training bank staff in counting money).

These three operations resulted in the arrest of 101 suspects, with the total amount of money involved nearing RMB 1.47 billion ($202 million). Macau’s Judiciary Police Director Sit Chong Meng also affirmed the Ministry of Public Security’s robust support in eradicating money exchange gangs in Macau, noting that the recent crackdown was already showing results.

There has been a drop in crimes involving money exchange gangs. The Judiciary Police will actively cooperate with the mainland authorities to rectify the illegal activities of money changers at the source.

Sit Chong Meng, Macau Judiciary Police Director

The intensified efforts by Chinese authorities mark a decisive step towards curbing the operations of money exchange gangs, ensuring greater financial security and legal compliance within Macau’s bustling economic landscape. Preliminary figures released by the Judiciary Police indicate a significant reduction in illegal money exchange activities, boding well for their efforts to contain this pressing issue.

Deyan is an experienced writer, analyst, and seeker of forbidden lore. He has approximate knowledge about many things, which he is always willing to apply when researching and preparing his articles. With a degree in Copy-editing and Proofreading, Deyan is able to ensure that his work writing for GamblingNews is always up to scratch.

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