Macau casino stocks dropped on Wednesday, with some falling by more than 7 per cent, after the South China Morning Post reported Beijing is set to launch a major crackdown on the multi-billion-dollar flow of illicit funds into the gaming hub. The coordinated security drive by Beijing will see the country's powerful Ministry of Public Security play a leading role. The unprecedented move - confirmed by documents seen by the Post that were sent to Macau's banks late yesterday by the city's monetary authority - turns up the heat on controversial VIP junket operators who generate the bulk of Macau gaming revenues as they come under increasing law enforcement scrutiny amid the "tigers and flies" anti-corruption drive by President Xi Jinping. See also: Macau casino shares drop on report of crackdown on illicit money transfers It also piles more pressure on the Macau government to come up with a plan to diversify its casino-reliant economy as it prepares for a visit by Xi on Friday to mark the 15th anniversary of the former Portuguese enclave's return to Chinese sovereignty. Macau casinos are going through one of the most significant slumps since the market was liberalised in 2002 and the drop in revenues - linked directly to the anti-corruption drive - has prompted a series of warnings from senior mainland figures that the situation poses a danger not only to the city's economic future but to the interests of the nation "as a whole". According to sources with knowledge of the situation, the new security drive will give the ministry's Economic Crimes Investigation Bureau electronic access to all transfers through the state-backed China UnionPay bank payment card to identify suspicious transactions. The bureau is spearheading the "Fox Hunt" operation aimed at securing the return of corrupt party officials who have fled overseas and funnelled millions of dollars worth of illicit funds out of the country in contravention of currency controls. The key involvement of the Ministry of Public Security - which met with senior Macau officials last month to hammer out the details of the crackdown - also provides confirmation of the long-held belief by many in law enforcement that Macau casinos are a major conduit for capital flight from the mainland. When told of the plan yesterday, a senior casino industry insider told the Post : "This is big. They're calling it the 'new normal' here in Macau. This is direct control over transactions by the Ministry of Public Security. It's serious and key people are going to be scared." A Macau-based analyst who asked not to be named said: "This seems directed at the junkets more than the mass floors. But I think the casinos' own VIP marketing teams ought to be cautious, too. If the Public Security Ministry is involved, this is most likely part of Fox Hunt. They are looking for big guys, not the rank and file." The move follows action taken earlier this year to restrict illicit money flows into Macau through China UnionPay. The move was aimed at identifying suspicious transactions. It also follows a coordinated effort by law-enforcement authorities in Beijing, Hong Kong and Macau to combat money-laundering activities, according to sources. The trigger for the enforcement campaign was a report carried by the Post in May, detailing concerns at the highest levels in Beijing about how the China UnionPay system in Macau was being used to conduct fake or fraudulent transactions. The concerns sparked a high-level visit by a delegation from the Ministry of Public Security to Macau on November 20. At this meeting, the issue of money-laundering controls in Macau was discussed, and it was agreed to establish a more effective cross-border enforcement regime with the cooperation of several of Macau's key regulatory agencies. Representatives from the People's Bank of China and China UnionPay on the mainland side, and Macau's monetary authority, judiciary police and public prosecutor's office were at the meeting. The Post has learned from sources with an understanding of the situation that the assistance of Hong Kong's law-enforcement agencies has also been sought. They cited renewed moves to freeze the assets of alleged triad boss Cheung Chi-tai in connection with alleged money-laundering in Macau, where Cheung operates a leading junket business. The sources point to recent announcements of increased cooperation with other countries, most notably the United States and France, in the effort to track down corrupt officials and their associates who have fled overseas.