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Tanzanian exchange bureaus swooped on suspicion of money laundering

BUSINESS
By Reuters | November 21st 2018
Tanzania President John Magufuli with Tanzania's Central Bank governor Prof. Florens Luoga. [Photo: Courtesy]

 

DAR ES SALAAM (Reuters) - Tanzania’s central bank conducted a surprise inspection of foreign exchange bureaus in a crackdown on black market currency trading and money laundering, it said on Tuesday.

Soldiers and other security forces took part in Monday’s operation in the northern town of Arusha, a tourism and gemstone trading hub, so different bureaus could be inspected at once, a statement said.

“There has been an increase in illegal foreign exchange bureaus and money laundering activities that have been conducted through foreign exchange bureaus,” central bank Governor Florens Luoga said, adding that it was a “vast and powerful network”.

Tanzania has 110 licensed foreign currency bureaus, the bank said.

Opposition leaders accused the government of unduly involving the military in the economy after it deployed the army earlier this month to collect the cashew nut harvests after rejecting low prices offered by private buyers.

“I am deeply shocked by the deployment of soldiers at all foreign exchange bureaus in Arusha,” Zitto Kabwe, the leader of the opposition ACT-Wazalendo party, said on Twitter.

“The military should only be deployed in special emergencies, such as defence of the constitution and the country’s borders,” Kabwe said.

The central bank suspended issuance of new licenses for foreign exchange bureaus over the past three months to conduct thorough inspections of existing foreign exchange retail bureaus, Luoga said.

“All those found to be operating illegally will have their licences revoked,” said the governor.

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