‘Innocent forex shop operators to be refunded, without interest’

By Francis Kajubi , The Guardian
Published at 03:31 AM Apr 03 2024
Hamad Hassan Chande, the Treasury deputy minister
Photo: Courtesy of the National Assembly
Hamad Hassan Chande, the Treasury deputy minister

OPERATORS of bureau de change owners proven innocent will be refunded their money and other seized resources, the government has declared.

Hamad Hassan Chande, the Treasury deputy minister, told the National Assembly yesterday that a total of 68 bureau de change shops were closed for accusations of money laundering from 2016 to 2018.

The Bank of Tanzania (BoT) had in 2016 conducted an inspection on forex shops and reported a range of fraudulent transactions contrary to regulations governing the business, especially in relation to control of illicit transactions and money laundering.

During 2018 and 2019 the central bank in collaboration with law enforcement agencies mounted an extensive inspection of foreign currency exchange shops and listed a range of irregularities.

Many forex shops were not making efforts to identify their customers prior to service delivery, ignoring law provisions on combating money laundering, he said, pointing at forex shops for administering customer-transaction services “while purposely avoiding to keep important records that justify the transaction.”

During inspection law enforcers also learnt that bureau de change operators were not issuing receipts when offering services, and “never submitted correct information of the transactions to the central bank thus affecting the collection of exact data for economic activities,” he stated.

Some forex shops were involved in illicit cash transfers and financial flows without having licenses for the business, he said, pointing out that BoT revoked the licenses of forex shops found to be in violation of the law and regulations, he said.

Agnesta Lamber Kaiza (Special Seats-Opposition) raised the question of whether the government was ready to refund forex seizures victims with interest since the government now admits to have also seized money and resources of innocent businessmen,.

In his response, the deputy minister affirmed that the refund won’t be cleared with interest, when seven bureau de change shops closed during raids in 2016 to 2018 or such suspicions are relicensed to carry on their businesses.

The original question came from, Ussi Pondeza (Chumbuni) who wanted to know what lies ahead with continued closure of forex shops whose owners have been proven innocent.

The government has no intention of withholding money from people who have been proven innocent, the deputy minister stated.