The wording of the new draft bill on junkets in Macau is being evaluated by the standing committee of the Legislative Assembly. Yesterday, members of the committee expressed their concerns about an article in the bill that required companies to provide documents with confidential information if the government has made such a request.
Article 56 of the Legal Framework for Operating Games of Chance in Casinos, called “Obligation to cooperate”, states that any person or entity must provide the documents they are required to present by the DICJ and the Financial Services Bureau (DSF). This applies even in the case of documents containing confidential information.
New Junket Law Requires Provision of Confidential Documents at the Request of the Government
According to the original text of the bill, persons or entities are required to be compliant with the MSAR Government and provide necessary documents at the request of the DICJ or the DSF, even if the said documents are “subject to a duty of secrecy.”
When evaluating the wording of the article of the proposed bill on junkets in Macau, it is deducted that whenever the government is involved in investigation cases of junkets, management companies, or agents, any person or entity that is aiding the investigation is required to provide relevant documents even if they contain confidential information. Those who are not compliant will be considered violating Article 40 of the new bill and will be subject to punishment of up to one year of imprisonment.
Chan Chak Mo, Chairman of the Second Standing Committee reviewing the proposed bill, expressed the concerns of several members of the body. Those members were concerned that the provision would give the DICJ and the DSF additional powers and were questioning why the wording used in the article was not clearer when describing the provision.
Committee Members Question Wording of Article of New Junket Bill
Chan noted that according to the current way the article is presented, it would require confidential documents to be presented at the request of the DICJ or the DSF, even if said documents belong to law firms or accounting firms. The Chairman of the committee was asked whether this bill is contradictory to the current laws that require specific permission from a judge to obtain confidential documents. Chan noted that there are already some cases that do not abide by this law, giving examples with cases of police entering a house without court permission as the officers are required to conduct an investigation.
Despite acknowledging that in some cases confidential documents could be obtained without the express permission of a judge, Chan noted that the government should be clearer in the wording of the confidentiality obligation. He was also questioning why the provision was not worded clearly and if it will give the DICJ and the DSF more powers.
Other content of the proposed bill that was discussed by the committee included the part about the “illegal taking of deposits”. According to the law, junkets, management companies, and agents are not allowed to accept deposits. The law, however, fails to mention whether this restriction applies to concessionaires. The committee turned to the Legislative Council’s advisory team for help in evaluating the content of the bill. The committee is expecting an answer on Friday when a new meeting will be held.