Dar es Salaam — The Bank of Tanzania (BoT) warned yesterday that it will take stern measures against those engaged in unlawful money exchanging business, just hours after police arrested 12 suspects in Tanga Region.
BoT Bureaux de Change manager Victor Tarimu said that the Finance sector's regulator was working closely with security organs to curb illegal money exchanging channels.
"It has come to our attention that border areas are prone to black market practices. We have managed to control it in Arusha. We also have information that the practice is common around Kariakoo in Dar es Salaam and plans are underway to arrest the culprits," he said.
Mr Tarimu said that the BoT has informed the police countrywide so they can take measures against perpetrators of the black market who were not only engaging in unlawful money exchanging business but were also selling fake currencies.
He stressed that the BoT and a number of commercial banks were currently issuing money exchanging services as they fill the gap left following the closure of bureaux de change across major urban centres in the country end of last year and early this year.
Earlier in the year, over 80 bureaux de change across the country were closed after investigations by the regulator found out that they were flouting the laws, regulations and procedures associated with the money changing business. From around mid-year, some money shops were issued with new licences under new rules as major banks continue to conduct money changing businesses.
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Meanwhile, police in Tanga are holding 12 businesspeople for interrogations in connection with allegations of conducting the money changing business without holding valid licences.
Tanga acting Regional Police Commander Leons Rwegasira said the businessmen were arrested following a surprise operation conducted by the police in cooperation with other state agencies. Security agencies, working with the BoT posed as potential clients in need of the service to nub the suspects.
A person who witnessed the arrests, Mr Jafari Abdallah, said the officers were either dressed in Maasai clothes or women in hijabs pretending to be citizens of either Uganda or Kenya looking for foreign currencies.
Mr Abdallah, who is in the business of transportation stationed at Ngamiani Bus Terminal in Tanga, said some of those arrested were prominent businesspeople in Tanga City.
According to Mr Rwegasira, the suspects were found in possession of $65,961, Sh63,352,583, Ksh236,549, Euro 270, British Pounds 400, South African Rand 1,020, Oman Rial 521, Ush2000 and Rupia 1,349.
He said during the operation they were also able to apprehend counterfeit cash and minerals.
He said upon completion of the investigations, the suspects will be arraigned in connection with trading in foreign exchange without having a central bank licence.