Taiwan Customs Officials Intercept $380K, Suspect Macau Money Laundering Activity

Posted on: July 11, 2017, 06:00h. 

Last updated on: July 11, 2017, 05:29h.

Taiwan customs officials at Taipei’s international airport got a whiff of dirty laundry in the suitcases of two of its citizens returning home from Macau. Nope, it wasn’t underwear that hadn’t hit the laundromat: it was cold, hard cash.

Taiwan customs money laundering
Funny money: customs agents in Taiwan suspected $400,000 in American dollars inside two mens’ luggage was not from their trust funds. (Image: Yao Chieh-hsiu/Taipei Times/Taoyuan International Airport/Montage by Casino.org)

Inside the luggage, the security agents discovered $400,000 in undeclared American dollar bills.

According to the Taipei Times, the two men were aged 23 and 26. They said the money didn’t belong to them, but were transporting the funds to Taiwan on behalf of someone they met while in Macau. The duo refused to identify that person.

The border agents retained $380,000 of the potentially illicit money, as the maximum amount per person allowed at point of entry in Twaiwan is $10,000. It’s unclear, per the media report, whether the two remain in custody.

Identified only by their surnames, 26-year-old Chiang and 23-year-old Chen said someone in Macau had asked them to travel with the money after the person claimed a big casino win. Officials in Taiwan are trying to locate the person of interest, and also investigating whether the Taiwanese citizens were provided a fee to move the cash.

Gambling is banned in Taiwan, the exception being state-run lotteries. But the flight from Taipei to Macau is less than two hours.

Anti-Money Laundering Controls Work

Taiwan customs employees are on high alert for suspected illegal activity, after the country recently updated its Money Laundering Control Act. Amended late last year, changes to the federal law were described as a necessity to bring the nation’s financial system up to date and more in line with global standards.

Revisions focused on boosting Taiwan’s ability to crack down and prosecute money launderers. The bill additionally called for the country’s first Anti-Money Laundering Office, which opened in March in Taipei.

Taiwan’s Money Laundering Control Act mandates that any person who fails to declare $10,000 or more in cash while traveling through customs will see their money confiscated. Chiang and Chen found out the hard way that they mean business.

How It Works 

Macau has been the focus of money laundering activity in recent years, but it’s also become a depository for money that the rich simply want to keep out of the clutches of China’s tax collectors.

After the gambling enclave’s casino revenues totaled $45 billion in 2013, China began a “corruption” crusade on VIP junket companies assisting mainlanders in moving money through the gaming zone.

 Junket customers pay as much as $650,000 in China to purchase packages to Macau. Once they are transported to the city, the travel group provides them with a nearly identical amount of “free credit” to gamble with.

Casinos and junkets have colluded to make the schemes beneficial to all parties.