China's central bank has amassed records of more than 3 million deals involving large amounts of money or suspicious financial transactions in Guangdong, media reports said yesterday. The People's Bank of China (PBOC) told the first working meeting of a Guangdong anti-money-laundering taskforce on Wednesday that such transactions amounted to 600 billion yuan and US$200 billion, the Beijing News reported. A Guangzhou Daily report said the PBOC had established an anti-money-laundering system in Guangdong last year with help from several government departments, including the provincial Higher People's Court, the provincial taxation bureau, and public security, finance and discipline inspection authorities. The bank said it had had some success in clamping down on money laundering. Tang Zhuchang, deputy director of Fudan University's money laundering studies centre, said the crime had increased on the mainland in recent years as the economy developed. But reports of suspicious financial transactions should not be automatically equated with money laundering. 'The figures of 600 billion yuan and US$200 billion are not all related to illegal financial problems,' he said. 'It's impossible to give a clear origin for every individual transaction in the financial world. The most important thing is that we need an effective mechanism to distinguish laundering money from different kinds of suspicious financial activity. 'China lags behind western countries in legislation and experience in combating money laundering. Now we are trying our best to catch up.' The mainland's first money laundering law was passed last month in an attempt to plug legal loopholes in the fight against the crime by providing clearer definitions and penalties. According to the law, financial institutions can be fined up to 5 million yuan if they assist money laundering and will also be required, from next month, to report cash transactions of more than 200,000 yuan or US$10,000 in foreign currency to the central bank. Besides improving the law, Professor Tang said authorities should also encourage and protect individuals who reported suspected money laundering. 'That could bring down the cost of combating money laundering for governments and help them better monitor corruption,' he said.