Sudan Arrests Dozens of Unofficial Currency Traders

Khartoum — Sudanese security authorities have arrested more than 70 traders of hard currency as part of a crackdown on the black market, a well-placed source told Sudan Tribune on Thursday.

The source said that the arrests that took place during the last two days were carried out by the National Intelligence and Security Forces (NISS) whose agents also confiscated all the hard currencies found in the possession of the detainees.

Sudan's Central Bank announced this week that it has decided to ban unofficial foreign currency dealing after the local pound hit a record low, trading for 7.1 against the US dollar in the black market as individuals and businesses alike found it increasingly difficult to obtain dollars through official channels and sometimes even in the black market.

With the loss of oil-rich South Sudan last year, Sudan's main source of hard currency has dried up leaving the government scrambling to secure new sources of Forex.

"It is almost impossible to get dollars in Khartoum and it is getting worse," one black market trader told Reuters. "The mood is very bad".

The deputy governor of Sudan central bank Badr Al-Deen Mahmood was quoted by government sponsored Sudanese Media Center (SMC) website on Tuesday as telling parliament that the jump in the price of the dollar is a result of practices such as linking the dollar price to gold.

Mahmood said the bank is collecting information on currency dealers suggesting legal action might be forthcoming against those implicated.

He said that there is no excuse for trading outside the official channels as the central bank permits anyone to apply for a license to establish a Forex bureau.

The black market rate is watched by foreign firms which sell products in pounds but struggle to convert profits into dollars.

Among those companies are mobile service providers Zain and MTN and Gulf banks such as Dubai Islamic Bank.

The exchange rate also impacts the price of basic commodities most of which are imported from abroad. Inflation rate in November hit 47% last month.

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