Five illegal money changers have been arrested in a Police operation conducted on Tuesday in Gisenyi Sector of Rubavu District.
Police spokesperson for the Western region, Chief Inspector of Police (CIP) Innocent Gasasira said that the suspects, all women, were “arrested red-handed exchanging money at Petit border post with Democratic Republic of Congo.”
He identified the suspects as Aimerence Nikuze, Anitha Uwambajimana, Virginia Uwimana and Marie Claire Nbajimana.
The fifth suspect is a minor, CIP Gasasira said.
“They were found with varied amounts of money in different currencies including Rwanda and Congolese francs, and US dollars. They suspects and exhibits have since been handed over to Rwanda Investigation Bureau in Gisenyi,” he said.
“There is a proper and legal way through which money exchange business is conducted; because they know what they are doing is illegal they tend to employ varied tricks to run their black market,” the spokesperson said.
He added: “This is why Police normally plan and conduct a target operation based on credible information on specific people involved and their bases.”
Economists say such unlawful financial businesses may lead to distortion of foreign exchange market due to speculative transactions; dollarization of the national economy; inflation and reduction of the competiveness of local products in the international market.
According to National Bank of Rwanda, the licensing body, “no individual or a company is authorized to transact in foreign currencies unless it is licensed.”
Article 4 of the law governing foreign exchange bureaus, partly states that a company or a cooperative intending to apply for a license to operate a foreign exchange bureau shall have a paid up capital not less than Rwf20 million or its equivalent in another currency before commencement of operations which should be maintained at all times.
As at the end of September, there were 87 licensed forex bureaus in Rwanda, majority 46 of them operating in the Central Business District of Nyarugenge.
Article 223 of the penal code also specifies that “any person who, by any means, illegally sells or exchanges, national or foreign currency, commits an offence.”
It sets an imprisonment of between six months and two years or a fine of up to Rwf3 million, or one of these penalties.