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Illegal Currency Trading Rising . . . BoG Helpless As Banned Foreigners Join Fray
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The business of illicit forex trading, popularly known as ‘Black Market’, is steadily taking over many business districts in the Greater Accra metropolis.

Business Day Ghana can report that it has become a norm to see black marketers, particularly nationals of Niger, in the business districts soliciting for clients in broad day light.

This is in spite of the Bank of Ghana’s regulation governing the operations of foreign exchange regime prescribing that anyone who operates a Forex Bureau must be a Ghanaian national.

Besides, it is illegal to run a currency exchange service outside of a properly licensed facility, such as forex bureau or a bank.

Usually, the foreign nationals work with Ghanaian collaborators, Business Day Ghana discovered.

The Airport City area, Tudu, Nima, Madina, Abeka-Lapaz, Kwame Nkrumah Circle, Accra Newtown, Maamobi, Tip-Toe Lane, Tema Community 1, Accra Mall, Junction Mall, Achimota Mall, West Hill Mall, and Zongo Lane have become hubs for the black market forex trade.

In Nima, Maamobi, Zongo Lane and Accra Newtown, the operators of the illicit business run 24-hour services, allowing people to have their dollar denominations changed into cedis.

The black marketers are also conspicuous at the entry to the Kotoka International Airport (KIA), with their main operation centre being the bus stop right in front of the Airport Divisional Police Command.

However, some patrons of the illegal money exchange service have told undercover Business Day Ghana journalists that the black marketers offer good business, better than mainstream forex bureau operators.

A Nigerien, who prefers to be known as Sule, says he dumped his Compact Disc (CD) hawking business for the illegal currency trading business at Tudu.

In that vicinity, opposite the Afloa Lorry Park, there is a common scene of West African nationals, dressed in ‘Bakatari’, soliciting for clients.
They walk to their prospective clients posing a question and tipping their fingers as if they were counting money.

Sule told Business Day Ghana that they sometimes supply dollars to some top politicians and business people who are in need of currency.

He said the big shots in the business have resorted to the use of motor bikes to beat traffic to be able to supply these individuals in need of the hard currency for their business trips as well as their internal businesses.

According to him, the black market business has transformed his life. Therefore, even though he is aware his business is illegal, he will not budge because some big police officials are beneficiaries of this business done in the street.

Way Forward

Meanwhile, a former chairman of the Association of Forex Bureau Operators, Joseph Ade-Coker, has urged Ghanaians not to do business with the illicit money exchangers in the city.

According to him, this will serve as a disincentive to their operations because organizing swoops on them has not worked.

“The business of the police swooping on them has not worked over the years. In some instances, the exchangers are hinted by people in the system to vacate posts before the police arrive so this has not helped,” he argued.

He called on the Bank of Ghana (BoG) and its affiliates to take a serious view of the activities of the foreigners in the exchange market.

He encouraged the BoG to find punitive measures to deal with the people who encouraged the business of illicit exchange in the country.

“The law should be on the lookout for the giver of the currency and their currencies confiscated to the state.

“This will send a message around for the currency givers to stop dealing with the currency takers in the system,” he suggested.

Responding to Business Day Ghana’s inquiries, the Director of Corporate Affairs at the BOG, Bernard Otabil, said “I will forward your concerns to the appropriate department for further investigations.

“Of course, issues that threaten the soundness of the financial system are not taken lightly by the bank and therefore what you raised will be investigated further and the appropriate action taken when breaches are found.”

Source: Business Day Ghana/Writer’s email: [email protected]

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