The Macau Law N. 6/2016 – Assets Freeze Legal Framework

September 26,2016

As recently stated in the Regional Risk Assessment for South-East Asia & Australia (2016), issued by the reputable inter-governmental agency named FATF (Financial Action Task Force), whose main aim is developing and promoting policies to combat money laundering and terrorist financing, criminal activity is an important source of revenue for some terrorist groups in some regional countries. Countries need to improve the timely sharing of critical intelligence between national security and law enforcement agencies to detect and disrupt criminal financing of terrorism. Banking and remittance sectors continue to be used to move terrorism funds within countries and to foreign regions. Terrorism funding through the banking sector is often small-scale and hard to distinguish from the volume of legitimate ordinary daily financial transactions. Authorities have some degree of visibility over remittance financial activity including international transfers where funds flow through bank channels. However, suspicious transaction reporting (STR) from remitters is generally lower than expected when considering the sector’s high vulnerability to misuse. This problem, combined with the challenges the sector poses for regulatory oversight, raises concern that actual terrorism financing misuse of remitters may be higher than currently detected.

Having these remarks very firmly in mind, Law No. 6/2016, very recently enacted by the Legislative Assembly of Macau, has seen the light of day in the past 23rd of August of 2016.
Largely driven by the quintessential purpose of preventing both terrorist funding and financing across globe’s boundaries, Law No 6/2016 has established a legal framework underpinning relevant United Nations Security Council Resolutions arisen on the scope of assets freeze.

The assets freeze is primarily focused on persons, or even corporate entities, that are directly or indirectly related with both terrorism (funding and financing) and proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, whose (legal or economic) activities are closely or tangentially linked to Macau SAR.
Due to the public goals underlying the assets freeze, request for exemption to the asset freeze can only be approved after a rather stringent scrutiny of Government’s Chief Executive of Macau.
Accordingly, there are five types of exemptions to asset freeze: 1) for basic expenses; 2) for extraordinary expenses; 3) for judicial, administrative or arbitral lien or judgment expenses; 4) for interests or other earnings due on the accounts or payments due under prior contracts, agreements or obligations; 5) for other payments duly authorized in the assets freeze decision.

In order to raise public awareness and augment both its efficiency and enforceability, Law No 6/2016 has heavily increased the reporting duties on a wide range of persons, professionals and (public and private) entities.
Overall, Law No 6/2016 intend to foster markedly the credibility of financial system as a whole, boost national security, and grant law enforcement agencies apposite mechanisms to timely detect and disrupt criminal financing of terrorism and proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.

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