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Security Agencies, EOCO Arrest Black Market Operators

The security agencies in collaboration with Economic and Organised Crime Office (EOCO) and Financial Intelligence Centre (FIC) on the instruction of the Bank of Ghana (BoG) have commenced a crackdown on illegal forex market operators, also known as black market, report picked up by DGN Online said.

Police personnel and operators of other security institutions have stormed Accra business district, specifically, Cow Lane to clamp down on underground banks, money exchange company and money laundering agents.

Per information available to the DGN Online, some persons have been rounded up with cash retrieved in what seems to be the first action by Ghana’s apex bank.
The action is to tame currency speculators who are driving down the cedi value.
This follows an appealed made by the Bank of Ghana to the security agencies to help clamp down on black market in the country.

Somewhere last month, Elsie Awadzie, a Deputy Governor of BoG had called on security agencies to clamp down on the black market operators.

Speaking at a sensitisation workshop in Accra for members of the Committee for Cooperation between the Law Enforcement Agencies and Banking Community (COCLAB), the deputy governor condemned the influx of black market operators in the forex market – an activity that she argues has contributed significantly to weakness of the local currency against major trading currencies.

Ms. Awadzie said the regulator is doing its best to straighten out licenced operators of the forex market but it cannot do so alone – as it needs collaboration and support from security agencies to stamp out the market’s illegal forex dealers.

“Support the Bank of Ghana’s efforts to sanitise the forex bureau sector by strictly enforcing existing rules for the fair and transparent conduct of business by licenced forex bureaus and clamping down on illegal forex operators – the black market. While the Bank of Ghana regulates the forex bureau sector, we rely heavily on your criminal investigation and enforcement powers.

“So, my heartfelt plea to you is: please help us to do something about this. We count on your cooperation, especially now more than ever to help restore order and prevent the cedi’s further depreciation,” she said.

The action is coming up after the Revival of COCLAB.

COCLAB has its membership drawn from the Bank of Ghana, Ghana Association of Banks, the Judiciary, Attorney General’s Office, Ministry of the Interior, National Security Secretariat, Economic and Organised Crime Office, Financial Intelligence Centre, National Investigations Bureau, Ghana Police Service, Ghana Immigration Service, Ghana Revenue Authority, Registrar-General’s Department and the National Communications Authority.

The Committee was set up to address issues bordering on financial crimes in the financial sector through information sharing and strategies.

Financial crimes in all its forms, including money laundering, terrorist financing, fraud – whether through offline or cyber-related means – siphoning and diversion of funds through the financial system by insiders to related parties and all other types erode integrity in the financial system, and thus destroys the confidence and trust that the Ghanaian public and the foreign enterprise repose in it.

The operation of the black market is believed to have adverse ramifications on the country’s economy: such as a reduction of saving and investment in the formal financial system and reductions in international trade facilities and foreign investment inflows which support the economy.

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