Sanitising forex market: 76 Arrested for selling ‘dollars’

BY: Maxwell Akalaare Adombila
Some of the suspects
Some of the suspects

The police have arrested 76 people for allegedly engaging in the illegal trading of foreign currencies (forex), especially the United States dollars, in parts of Accra.

The suspects were swooped on and arrested by a special team from the Ghana Police Service (GPS) and the Bank of Ghana (BoG) last Tuesday for selling and buying the CFA Franc, the euro and the British pound, among other forex, in the Central Business District (CBD) of Accra without central bank licences.

They were rounded up from the Rawlings Park, Tudu, Cowlane, the Kwame Nkrumah Circle, Kinbu, Timber Market and Lava and have since been put in police custody to aid the investigation towards their prosecution.

Special team

The special team, made up of staff from the Foreign Exchange Bureau Office of BoG and police officers, moved from one spot to another, arresting the operators who were engaged in the practice.

The trading of forex is regulated by the Foreign Exchange Act, 2006 (Act 723), which also empowers BoG to issue licences to interested institutions and individuals.

According to the act, any person engaged in the business of dealing in foreign exchange without a licence committed an offence and was liable to summary conviction to a fine of not more than 700 penalty units or a term of imprisonment of not more than 18 months or both.

Nationwide exercise

The Head of the Foreign Exchange Bureau Office of BoG, Adjoa Konadu-Tortor, told the media after the exercise that the majority of those arrested were foreigners engaged in the illegal act.

According to Mrs Konadu-Tortor, the exercise formed part of a special operation by the central bank, in partnership with the police, to rid the system of the illegal forex traders, popularly called ‘black market operators’.

She said it was in line with efforts to sanitise the forex market of illegal operators by ensuring that only licensed operators were allowed to trade in foreign currencies.

She stated that similar swoops would be carried out nationwide, with a special focus on places known to be hotbeds for the illegal trading of forex.

The Head of the central bank’s Foreign Exchange Bureau Office described the exercise as long overdue, especially given the “havoc” it caused to the economy and the local currency.

Meanwhile, a statement from the Financial Stability Department of BoG said the swoop on illegal forex traders would be complemented by other measures to help sanitise the forex market.

It said the measures included enforcement of compliance from licensed foreign exchange bureau, particularly with the taking of customer identification (Ghana card) and issuance of electronic receipt for every forex transaction, intensified public sensitisation and media engagements to educate the general public on forex rules and regulations