Eighteen people were arrested yesterday on vote-buying charges ahead of Macau's Legislative Assembly election on Sunday. Five had allegedly paid to collect voter identification cards from voters in the northern district. Others were voters - among them students who just turned 18 - who allegedly sold their cards. The Macau Commission Against Corruption said a mastermind behind the vote-buying scheme was paying 500 patacas for each voter's card. The commission launched the operation yesterday after a tip-off earlier this month. About 10 identification cards, believed to have been withheld illegally, and more than 10,000 patacas in cash were found at different locations. The suspects were transferred to the prosecutor's office last night. Yesterday's arrests were the latest in a series of vote-buying schemes in the election uncovered by the anti-graft body. At least three such cases came to light in the past two weeks. In the largest case, 485 people were arrested and 415 voter registration cards seized last week. Vote-buying has long been a problem in Macau elections. The standard price is 500 patacas for one voter registration card. Bribed voters receive the payment on the understanding they will vote for a particular candidate. The president of the Macau Electoral Commission, Fong Man-chong, said voter registration cards would be abolished by the 2009 legislative assembly election to reduce the chance of vote-buying. Eighteen candidate lists, comprising a record 127 candidates, are vying for 12 seats in this year's election.