A joint operation by the Bank of Ghana (BoG) and the Ghana Police Service has resulted in the arrest of 76 illegal forex dealers – popularly known as the ‘black market’ on the streets of Accra.
The move by the two institutions is to end the age-old practice that has significant implications for the local currency and to curb illegal forex trading.
The operation took place in busy streets of the capital in areas such as Makola, Tudu and Rawlings Park – which are all notoriously known for illegal forex trading, usually perpetrated by foreign nationals from neighbouring countries.
Speaking to the media after the operation, the head of the Foreign Exchange Bureau Office, Bank of Ghana, Adjoa Konadu-Torto, said the move is meant to send a strong signal that the central bank is serious about sanitising the financial sector and ensuring only licenced forex traders are dealing in exchange rate transactions.
“If you don’t own a licence issued by the central bank, it is an offence to trade in any foreign currency. For the past few years, we have seen people seriously engaging in this illegal act. Public education has gone out and still, we see these unlicensed institutions around.
“Today, we decided to start an ongoing operation throughout the country; and fortunately for us, we happened to get 76 illegal operators on the street… We have over 480 licenced forex bureaus scattered across the country and we encourage everyone to trade with them,” she said.
Konadu-Torto further cautioned the general public to desist from trading with such illegal forex operators, as they are equally guilty of the law when caught.
Again, she reminded the general public to insist on receipts when they trade with licenced forex bureaux.
“The Bank cautions the general public to desist from engaging in foreign exchange business without a licence. Members of the public who patronise the activities of black-market operators are equally guilty before the law.
“The general public must always trade with the Bank of Ghana-licenced foreign exchange (forex) bureaux. Customers must insist on their electronic receipts by providing the acceptable valid ID, the Ghana Card, to cover the buying and selling of all foreign currencies,” she said.
Other measures being put in place by the Bank of Ghana include enforcement of compliance by licenced foreign exchange bureaux – particularly with the taking of customer identification (Ghana Card) and issuance of electronic receipts for every forex transaction; and intensified public sensitisation and media engagements to educate the general public on forex rules and regulations, including their need to avoid the black market etc.
Position of the law
Section 3. (1) of the Foreign Exchange Act, 2006 (Act 723) states that: “A person shall not engage in the business of dealing in foreign exchange without a licence”; and Section 29 (1a) says “A person who engages in the business of dealing in foreign exchange without a licence commits an offence and is liable, on summary conviction, to a fine of not more than seven hundred penalty units or a term of imprisonment of not more than eighteen months, or both”.
Also, Section 1 (i & ii) of the Revised Forex Bureau Regulations, 2003 (BOG NOTICE NO. BG/GOV/SEC/2003/2) states that: “No person shall carry on any forex bureau business unless he/she is in possession of a valid forex bureau licence. A person who contravenes or fails to comply shall be guilty of an offence and be dealt with in accordance with the law”.