THE Bank of Tanzania (BoT) has conducted another impromptu inspection on bureaux de change businesses, this time in Dar es Salaam, following its Arusha operation back in November.
The Guardian has established that the Wednesday night scrutiny took place in a number of bureaux de change in the city where security officials confiscated a number of computers from the shops.
Dar es Salaam Special Zone Police Commander Lazaro Mambosasa told this paper yesterday that the law enforcers had received distress call Wednesday night that the shops were raided by criminals and upon rushing to the scene; they found Bank of Tanzania (BoT) officials and special security people.
A BoT statement said yesterday that the operation was a normal one meant to seek out those engaging in violating laws regulating the business.
“Following this operation, BoT has began deregistering licences for bureau de change businesses found to have been violating laws and regulations. The operation is ongoing,” it reads in part.
The operation was informed by BoT reviews of operational reports it obtained from the various bureaus, the statement said, noting that there was no problem caused as currency exchange services were available in commercial banks and other financial institutions.
“The use of the black market for foreign exchange services is illegal. BoT will take punitive measures against all those caught engaging in the illegal trade, be it as a service provider or customer,” it affirmed.
Following the Arusha inspection, BoT clarified that the impromptu inspection that saw several foreign exchange shops closed in Arusha targeted businesses that did not have proper licences and those engaging in money laundering.
Addressing a press conference in the city after the raid, BoT Governor Prof Florens Luoga said that the bureaux de change that were targeted by the purge were proxies for illicit money flows.
Luoga stated that the government had been concerned over recent upsurge of illegal syndicates among local foreign currency shops, many of which either did not have official licences or operated using borrowed or counterfeit licences.
He said the exercise was executed under the inspection department of the BoT, in association with state security organs working to ensure that cases of money laundering and illegal transactions of foreign currencies in the country are dealt with.
Mid-February, Arusha Regional Commissioner Mrisho Gambo announced that investigations on Arusha foreign exchange shops that were closed late last year were complete and soon the bureaux would open for business.
“I would like to assure all business men and women, trading entities and tour companies operating in Arusha that operations conducted on bureaux de change shops in the city were normal precautionary procedures executed to ensure that the business is conducted in safe and well-regulated conditions,” the RC intoned.