Featured image adapted from Bank Negara Malaysia
Anti-corruption was a major stance for Malaysia Baru, and with the dawn of the first full year under a new government, new anti-corruption and anti-money laundering measures have been announced, namely a reduced cash transaction limit from RM50,000 to RM25,000.
While the biggest known money-laundering scandal in Malaysia was conducted electronically through bank accounts, a known loophole for money laundering is actually cold, hard cash. Cash transactions that bypass financial institutions are difficult to track, making it a favourite for money laundering and under-table activities. Our Prime Minister, Dr. Mahathir, believes that going cashless is the way to reduce the frequency of such crimes, and one baby step towards that direction is the slashing of unreported cash transaction limits by 50% to RM25,000.
Cash Threshold Report
This cash transaction limit is actually known as the Cash Threshold Report (CTR). Any transaction that exceeds the CTR in any given day shall be reported to Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM). The CTR is a cumulative limit, which means that all affected cash transactions, both incoming and outgoing, count towards that daily CTR limit. If you deposited RM20,000 then immediately took RM10,000 back out for whatever reason, your cumulative CTR would be RM30,000 and your activity will be reported to BNM.
Types of Transactions Reported
Although CTR technically stands for Cash Threshold Report, its scope happens to encompass more than just the physical Malaysian Ringgit notes you can hold in your hands. Notes-wise, all cash transactions are of course reported, in both local and foreign currency denominations. Any bearer negotiable instruments, such as travelers’ cheques, which unconditionally promise to pay the sum stated on the instruments, also fall under CTR.
Types of Transactions Not Reported
The CTR basically excludes many transfers that can be tracked, such as bank drafts, cheques, electronic transfers, fixed deposit roll-overs, and fixed deposit renewals. New fixed deposits, however, may be under scrutiny if you try to deposit cash.
Projected Impacts on the Industry
The premise behind lowering the CTR is to hamper “structuring” activities, which is a money laundering technique that transacts the intended sum in many installments over many days to avoid being reported to BNM. Now with the CTR limit halved, money launderers will have to work twice as hard to deposit the same amount of money before. Less money risk being transferred to fund terrorist activities as well.
For everyone else though, it’s business as usual. Individuals and businesses can still freely transact more than RM25,000 per day without any extra paperwork or questions. Beyond that, you may have to declare the source of your funds and the purpose of your transactions in order for the bank to report to BNM.
If you don’t want any questions asked when you wish to transact money, there’s one easy workaround for honest citizens: electronic transactions! Unlike cash transactions, there is no limit on e-banking transactions except the limit set by yourself or the bank (which can still be adjusted).