Macau police arrest 2 with China UnionPay mobile devices

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 18 May, 2014, 4:55am
UPDATED : Sunday, 18 May, 2014, 4:55am

Two men have been arrested in Macau in a crackdown on the use of China UnionPay mobile swipe card devices.

Police stopped the pair, from Fujian province, aged 25 and 30, as they took a taxi from a casino on Cotai at about 2am yesterday, Macao Daily reported.

Officers said the pair were found with two of the devices, HK$690,000 in cash and HK$500,000 worth of casino chips. The arrests were the first since a Beijing-backed crackdown on the use of the payment devices was launched.

Casinos have been ordered by Macau's Monetary Authority to get rid of the devices before July 1.

The devices from the mainland have illegally entered Macau at a rapid rate and are being used for unauthorised dealings that appear as domestic transactions, circumventing currency controls. They are also used to evade tax on the mainland, which is why they require authorisation for use in Macau.

Police said that the devices found with the pair in the taxi had been modified, enabling them to link to a trading platform on the mainland that charged just 26 yuan per transaction - rather than the 1.4 per cent Macau's official UnionPay trading platform would have charged.

The pair had allegedly withdrawn 140 million patacas in cash from more than 800 card transactions made by clients they had done business with in casinos since May last year.

According to Macao Daily, this had cost UnionPay a loss of at least 220,000 patacas in transaction fees.

The pair claimed they borrowed the devices from friends.

Police were investigating whether there were links to two similar cases in February and March, when 10 locals and mainlanders were arrested.

The case has been handed to the Public Prosecutions Office.

Mainland gamblers in Macau use the cards because they don't want to reveal how much they gamble. This meant gaming revenue had been under-reported.

Officially reported gaming revenue in Macau stood at US$45 billion last year, but one analyst estimated there was a further US$90 billion unreported.