Criminals struggle to get dirty money through casinos as new figures show drastic drop in suspect transactions.

Introduced in 2009, the Anti-Money Laundering and Counter Financing of Terrorism Act was enacted on July 1st, 2013.

Casinos from that point onward have been stricter and more stringent in detecting money laundering on their property, with the act implementing harsh penalties if operators fail to comply with new regulations.

Figures released to a number of New Zealand tabloids suggest that a number of suspicious transactions reported by New Zealand casinos has decreased dramatically following new legislation.

Over the last thirty months up to June 2013, the average number of suspicious transactions were around 103 per month. After the act was instigated this dropped to just 28 per month, or an average drop of 73%.

The PFIU’s (Police Financial Intelligence Unit) latest report suggests that this trend might be explained by their improved reporting services. This has, they believe, led to fewer, but improved suspicious transaction reports.

It’s often been noted that criminals utilise casinos to hide the origin of their ill-gotten money. They might do this by purchasing a large amount of chips or gambling credit and then cash it in shortly after. The returned funds and receipt made the funds look legitimate.

Casinos seen as pro-active and alert

Officials from the Department of Internal Affairs says New Zealand casinos have been “co-operative and proactive towards meeting their AML/CFT obligations.

“The casinos have risk assessments and programmes and policies established which help them detect and deter money laundering and financing of terrorism.”

James Packer’s Sky City have instilled the importance of tackling money laundering and “acknowledges the importance of discharging its obligations effectively in this area”.

The Police’s Acting National Manager of Organised Crime, Stu Mills believes that New Zealand casinos still continue to be a target for criminals.

“In the criminal environment, cash is still king,” he says.

“This exposes a weakness and presents opportunities for law enforcement agencies and the business world to work together in the identification of money laundering.”

Whatever the case, it seems that New Zealand are doing well to keep their criminals at bay. Let’s hope they keep it up as honestly, crime ruins it for everybody.

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