>> ATMs across Hong Kong have been hit by an enormous surge in withdrawals to what local media say is $2.5 billion a month. They also say so called money withdrawal gangs from mainland China are the culprits, like this one pictured by Ming Pao newspaper. Sources say they're using up to 50 bank cards at a time to take out hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Hong Kong officials say the gangs may have come from nearby gambling hub Macau, long considered a money laundering black spot. Reuters Farrah Master explains why they may have left.>> To crack down on capital outflows, China this year, in January, introduced a new measure which puts a cap on the amount of money people can take out on their cards outside of China.
China's capital controls have made it really hard for citizens to take lots of money out of the country, so they've turn to a range of different measures. Macau used to be a place where people could go and use the ATM, using multiple cards to get money out. Since last year, the Macau government has tried to really clamp down on this.
And for most of the ATMs, they've installed facial recognition technology, which means people are obviously much more hesitant to go and take their money out there.>> Macau is popular for mainland Chinese. After pressure from Beijing, the city fitted almost all of its ATM's with facial recognition. The arrival of these small cameras may have spelled the departure of the gangs.
Huge monthly withdrawals came down to what Macau is calling a relatively reasonable level. It appears business simply shifted to Hong Kong, but not without its risks.>> In recent months, there have been lots of instances of gangs of people going to ATMs with multiple cards and taking out lots of money.
This in turn has led to other gangs trying to rob them to get the money, so it's become a huge problem for the police force in Hong Kong.>> Even still, there isn't much Hong Kong police can do. The city is a separate territory in China, and it's not actually illegal there to withdraw money on someone else's behalf.
That's making mass withdrawals almost impossible to control. And for now it seems to be a valid loophole to China's crackdown.