Some 76 people have been arrested in Accra in a crackdown on black market currency trading at the Central Business District to break the fall of the Cedi.
Security agents, accompanied by officials of the central bank, raided the premises of the black market currency dealers Tuesday and detained those involved in the business.
They were arrested at Rawlings Park, Tudu, Cowlane, Circle, Kinbu, Timber Market and Lava in the contravention of Section 3(1) of the Foreign Exchange Act, 2006 (Act 723), which requires a person to obtain licence before he can engage in the business of dealing in foreign exchange.
Head of Forex Exchange Bureau at the Bank of Ghana (BoG), Adjoa Konadu Torto, said the special operation was part of measures to stop the Cedi’s slide and sanitise the foreign exchange market to ensure compliance.
The black market, which has been a revolving door for some importers, continuously creates severe hard currency shortages for the Ghanaian economy.
The central bank has been unable to stop the cedi’s slide on the black market, where importers go to buy dollars due to severe hard currency shortages in one of Africa’s biggest economies.
The economy has been pushed into challenges partly by a slump in the Cedi, triggering inflation.
Madam Konadu Torto said the suspects would be made to face the full rigorous of the law, while entreating the public to desist from patronising the services of black market foreign exchange dealers.
Section 29 (1a) of the Foreign Exchange Act, 2006 (Act 723), states that “A person who engages in the business of dealing in foreign exchange without a license commits an offence and is liable, on summary conviction, to a fine of not more than seven hundred penalty units or a term of imprisonment of not more than 18 months, or both.”
“The general public must always trade with the Bank of Ghana licensed forex bureau,” she urged.
The BoG also cautioned against pricing, advertising, paying, or receiving payment for goods and services in foreign currency in Ghana as the sole legal tender in Ghana is the Ghana Cedi and Ghana Pesewa.
“It is an offence punishable by law. Such violations are punishable, on summary conviction, by a fine of up to 700 penalty units or a prison term of not more than 18 months, or both” the bank said in a statement.
It added that the bank would enforce compliance by taking customer identification (Ghana card) and issuance of electronic receipt for every forex transaction as part of complementary measures to ensure compliance with Ghana’s foreign exchange laws and regulations.
According to the statement, the central bank also intends to intensify public sensitisation and media engagements to educate the public on forex rules and regulations, and the need for people to avoid the illegal market.
“Members of the public are encouraged to report all foreign exchange violations,” it demanded.
By Ernest Kofi Adu