Chinese President Xi Jinping launched an anti-corruption crackdown in Macau due to growing concerns that government officials in high level positions were taking advantage of their power and using it for personal gain. Macau authorities have now launched an investigation into two senior officials who are suspected of taking gifts in exchange for favours.
Macau’s Commission Against Corruption (MCAC) did not arrest any high level officials in 2014 but has stepped up efforts in 2015 and has so far investigated seven individuals for bribery charges. The MCAC released a statement on its website confirming that a Marine and Water Bureau chief along with a customs inspector were being investigated for bribery charges.
Macau has a restriction on the amount of money an individual can bring through customs. The customs inspector reportedly accepted a bribe from a VIP gambler to allow him to enter with more than the permitted amount of cash. The Marine and Water official has reportedly taken a number of gifts from an individual who runs one of the ferries in Macau.
In a statement, the MCAC said “According to the investigation results, the chief had also used his powers to help cover up the irregular practices of the ferry services company on many occasions, so the latter could be free from penalties even though its operations did not comply with the instructions and regulations set out by the Marine and Water Bureau.”
Macau which is just an hour away by ferry from Hong Kong and Mainland China has only two ferry operators. Shun Tak Holdings operates the Turbo Jet ferry and Sands China which is owned by billionaire Sheldon Adelson runs the Cotai Water Jet ferry service. There is currently no information as to which of the parties may have been involved.
The anti-corruption crackdown which initially began as a sting operation has continued for close to two years now and has had significantly deterred money laundering, racketeering and other criminal activities which earlier used to go under the radar.
Back in December 2014, President Xi Jinping appointed Cheong Weng Chon as the new MCAC Commissioner and since then the anti-corruption crackdown has intensified and a wide net has been thrown all across Asia to bring back corrupt officials who have fled Mainland China.
Macau’s gambling industry continues to decline due to the intense anti-corruption crackdown and has so far experienced a decline of 32 percent in its gross gaming revenues.