Posted on: July 20, 2019, 3:00 a.m.

Last update on: July 20, 2019, 9:09 a.m.

The United Nations (UN) says casinos in Southeast Asia are the main vehicles for organized crime groups to launder large volumes of illicit money due to their lack of regulatory oversight and weak security guarantees .

Money Laundering in Southeast Asian Casinos
Small Southeast Asian casinos like this one in Cambodia are used for money laundering, the UN suspects. (Photo: Facebook)

The UN concludes in its report “Transnational Organized Crime in Southeast Asia: Evolution, Growth and Impact 2019” that casinos are regularly used to launder dirty money linked to drug trafficking, as well as trafficking. human beings, wild animals and various counterfeit products.

UN officials have said that there are 230 licensed casinos in Southeast Asia, the majority of which – 150 – are in Cambodia. The Philippines is responsible for the second largest number of gambling sites with 67 licensed casinos.

Many of these casinos emerged after a crackdown on money laundering activity in Macau, China, in 2014, raising concerns that a ‘displacement’ of criminal activity associated with casinos has taken place to South Asia. -Is, ”the UN said.

The United Nations is an international organization currently made up of 193 member states. The main objective of the group is to maintain international peace and security and to develop strong relations beyond global borders.

Junket crime

The UN says third-party intermediaries known as junket operators are using the casinos loosely or fully unregulated to make the origin of funds rather obscure and difficult for law enforcement to detect. And that’s a lot of money.

The Organized Crime Study estimates that Southeast Asian crime syndicates last year transported $ 25.7 billion in methamphetamine and $ 6.3 billion in heroin. Revenues from counterfeit products totaled nearly $ 40 billion.

“The region’s rapidly expanding network of casinos, many of which are poorly or unregulated, has become an ideal partner or spin-off industry for organized crime groups who need to launder large volumes of illicit money. Countries in the region should develop appropriate regulatory and enforcement frameworks to disrupt casino-facilitated money laundering, ”the UN concluded.

Heist Bank

The UN’s findings on the apparent lack of guarantees against money laundering at Southeast Asian casinos come as no great shock. It wasn’t until 2016 that the Central Bank of Bangladesh to the New York Federal Reserve was robbed via remote transfers.

Several transactions totaling $ 81 million was taken from the country’s account. A total of $ 951 million in withdrawals was expected, but a Federal Reserve official became suspicious after noticing a spelling error on one of the requests.

Bangladesh has been notified and told US officials that it is not withdrawing the money.

An international investigation determined that some of the stolen funds had been laundered by the Solaire Resort and Casino in Manila, Philippines. Only $ 18 million of the $ 81 million withdrawn was covered. It is suspected that pirates in North Korea working for their government were behind the operation.

Bloomberry Resorts, the parent company of Solaire, is being sued in the United States by the state-run Rizal Commercial Banking Corporation of Bangladesh over allegations that the casino has failed to adequately protect against money laundering. silver.

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