Rundu — Two Angolan nationals and a Namibian were arrested at the Rundu Open Market yesterday after a police crackdown on the proliferation of the illegal money trade in a basket of foreign currencies, including US dollars. The money traders who often carry bags stuffed with foreign currency trade mainly in Angolan Kwanza, Zambian Kwacha, Namibian Dollar and South African Rand.
The three, whose identities cannot be revealed until they are arraigned in court, were found in possession of millions of Kwanza worth N$200 000. NamPol's Regional Crime Investigations Coordinator, Deputy Commissioner Willie Bampton, said the suspects were arrested because they were not authorised by the Treasury or appointed as dealers to trade in foreign currency.
Police officials, who pretended to be clients, discovered the millions in Kwanza notes worth N$200 000 at the open market during a well-coordinated raid. "Our members at the Criminal Investigation Department went to the open market disguised as clients who wanted to exchange money. After that we raided the place and discovered the money on one of the suspects," said Bampton.
"I want people to know that if you are not an authorised dealer, it is illegal to trade in foreign currency," said Bampton, adding that illegal currency exchange is on the increase in the country. He told New Era that it is the first time police in the Kavango Region have arrested suspects for illegal currency exchange.
"We will continue with our operations to root out these types of activities. Normally foreigners will go to the open market to trade their foreign currency for the Namibian currency in order to purchase goods in Namibia," he said. Bampton said the banks and licensed moneychangers are losing business, because of these unauthorised street-smart, currency dealers whose rates fluctuate many times a day depending on demand.
They are likely to be charged in terms of the Exchange Control Regulations, 1961. Illegal currency trading is punishable by a prison term of not more than five years or a fine not exceeding N$250 000. The deputy commissioner said the suspects will appear in the Rundu Magistrate's Court today.