Sierra Leone Central Bank Governor wages war on illegal forex trading

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 18 May 2020:

As Sierra Leone’s exchange rates against major global currencies continue to fall, the governor of the country’s Central Bank – Kelfala M. Kallon, has issued another stern warning to those trading in foreign currencies illegally.

In March this year, Kallon gave an ultimatum to all street forex vendors to regularise their opertions by registering with the Bank.

Since coming to office in 2018, Sierra Leone’s currency – the Leone, has lost over 20% of its value against the Dollar and the British Pond, due largely to the massive fall in mining exports revenue and the country’s inability to locally produce much of what it consumes.

Announcing the new measures to fight illegal foreign currency trading, Kelfala M. Kallon said that he is doing so in line with the powers vested in the Bank of Sierra Leone – Section 48 (3) of the Bank’s Act of 2019, to augment the measures he announced on 2nd of March 2020. This is what he announced last weeK:

“Anyone caught engaging, or attempting to engage, in buying or selling foreign currency without being licensed by the Bank of Sierra Leone to operate as foreign exchange dealers shall forfeit all foreign currencies found in their possession or under their control.

“That persons who engage, or attempt to engage, in foreign currency transactions with persons not licensed by the Bank of Sierra Leone to operate as foreign exchange dealers shall forfeit to the Bank of Sierra Leone all foreign currencies found in their possession or under their control.

“That foreign currencies found in the possession or under the control of anyone who engages or attempts to engage in foreign currency transactions at any place other than the registered business address of a licensed foreign exchange dealer shall be forfeited to the Bank of Sierra Leone.

“That violators of the above directives shall be referred to the Financial Intelligence Unit for investigation into whether they violated Section 23 and 24 of the Anti-Money Laundering and Combatting of Financing of Terrorism Act, 2012.”

He reminds the public that anyone caught contravening theses regulations shall be charged under  Section 26(5) of the Bank of Sierra Leone Act 2019, and punished after conviction with a fine of Le100 Million or be imprisoned for a term not less than three years or both.

11 Comments

  1. It amazes me when we cry for governments to correct the things that have kept us in the abysmal poverty 59 years since independence. What is wrong if people dealing in foreign exchange are regulated instead of using the guise of poverty to run a very important sector? I will tell you from my experience as a former dollar boy that those engaged in that business are not poor. I built a house and paid for myself to come to Europe. I never paid a dime in tax to the central or local government. I did not pay a dime as rent.

    Today, in Europe, I see myself as someone who undermined the economy of my country. In Europe I am paying so much in tax for everything and yet I am not paying a dime to the city council for my house in Freetown. I am not being selfish, but I think that we have to rewrite the way our country is run. What some are writing here is a prelude to how they are going to sabotage this strategy. It is pathetic.

    • Mr. Mansary contrary to your insinuation, there is no one in this platform that is against the generation of revenues by our government via taxes. As you alluded, 60-70% percent of our citizens dealing in various businesses and employment don’t pay taxes into the government. This is true in majority of the African countries. We all know the reasons behind, so no need for me to dwell on it.

      Now, the targeting of the dollar boys is not based on the premise of revenue generation, rather, the authorities are suggesting that, the black market business is somehow responsible for the depreciation of the Leone, hence they must be targeted and prosecuted. You claimed to have been a dollar boy, so, can you clearly articulate how your actions could have been directly related to the fluctuation of our currency in past regimes? Also, could you please name instances where the activities of the dollar boys have impacted the growth or contraction of our economy?

      Lastly, I must say you happen to be one of the lucky ones to have acquired wealth in the black market business. The fact remains majority of those engaged in the business are barely getting by. I visit Salone frequently, sometimes twice a year and most of the dollar boys I have come across are poor youths, with a few of them being college students. So it is highly hypocritical for you to suggest that majority of the dollar boys are rich citizens.

  2. We have been here before.When president Joseph Momoh took over power from Pa Sakai in 1985,his first act was to declare war against economic indiscipline.what ever that means. I have grudgingly come to the conclusion we Sierra Leoneans will never learn from our past mistakes. Histroy repeats itself and in the context of today’s Sierra Leone those words hold true to their meaning. When are we going to learn from our past. Its like since independence we are stuck in a merry go round and not knowing how to come out of it.

    Anytime you hear a policy announcement you hold your breath and think we’ve been here before.I don’t know what is with our politicians or public servants they always come up with the same tried and tested failed policy. Seems to me anytime they are confronted with economic issues, they reach for the shelves and dust up any old policy and convince the powers that be it will work. The president sitting in his office at state house and being told by his hangers on that there are people out to get him, havs no time to think through policies that will advance the country.

    The president is now locked in a sigh mentality even scared of his own 5pm shadow. President Momoh’s ideas mirrors the same ideas promoted today by the bank governor Kallon going after the small traders. When ever a new government takes over and promise things they can’t deliver the first people they turn against are the small people that live by hand to mouth. If this government is interested in revamping our economy, the first thing they should be doing is to put their own house in order before they start to look for scapegoats. We all know corruption is the main issue that is holding back our country’s future development. And for us to able to attract any foreign investment, as President Bio alluded to in his speech we need peace and security in the country. No one can go and invest in a country where political lynching is the order of the day.

    • Mr Jalloh – as you may have noticed you are losing a lot of your paragraphs because you are going against the maximum wordage rule. Please take note – omly 3 paragraphs with no more than 5 or 6 lines each are accepted. Thank you.

  3. I am just too sickened of what Sierra Leoneans are trying to be, navigating from one color to another. All is bad today under the new government and yesterday was the sweetest life under the past government! If it was so why did you change your government?!! Sierra Leone has always been land of poverty, illiteracy and fear. Your country is 59 years old and yet it’s people don’t even know why they vote? why they relate to a party? And you want to jump from hell to heaven without tasting the death?!!! Learn to be civilized by doing the right thing, learn why you have to vote, learn what to vote means, learn that the party is not what or where you live.

    You have only one country, one life to live in your country, please do not continue to be manipulated by politicians, they are liars. 59 years they lied to you and they will continue to lie to you if you don’t wake up from your tribal and regional sleep. Mark my words.

  4. It’s just stupidity when people are elected to jobs that they are not qualified to do. Or even having a clue of, this what happens. He is now just creating more struggle and disaster in the country. If a bank governor can’t provide foreign exchange for its citizens what do they expect, you can’t turn your economy. May be the bank governor want to trade foreign ex to the citizens. Let him be clear on this.

  5. Emmerson,Your “Yesterday beteh pas tiday” single was released less than a year under the apc regime largely due to the fall of the Leone to the dollar..100 Dollar at the time was Le600,000..Though there was abundant electricity in the capital city in particular, rice per bag was Le175,000, fuel was reasonably affordable, basic commodities were not hard to afford.

    Doller boys were never given an ultimatum as to who to sell to, where to sell and how they should sell their dollar. Yet you said yesterday beteh pas tiday….For two years now, under this current Bio administration, the country is undergoing its worst economic collapse, you have vanished in thin air. Oh salone, na God nomor go ep wi…

    • Indeed only God, but yet still we have to voice out our opinions through social media to educate the youths. But the Suffering is unbearable. Why Salone. #putsalonetoworkagriculture#

  6. If this President and his sloppy,muddled,bloated,government would just take a moments pause,and learn to think carefully,and deeply,before they act,perhaps,just perhaps they would’ve managed to make some form of visible,sustainable progress by now,for the benefit of our entire struggling nation.But lets call things as they are with sincerity,and a clearer vision:a President that needs a group of totally inept,blind men to show him the way towards security,stability,and progress has already failed miserably;Worldwide,renowned champions,are known to take pride in accumulating trophies that come from a continuous series of victories;but this blundering SLPP,and its unstable,featherweights like Mr Francis,JJ Saffa,and Governor Kallon can only shyly,and shamefully boast of only an endless,nerve-wrecking string of humiliating defeats,losses,and failures under their amateurish belt,since they assumed the reins of power.

    Now they are chasing the little guys trying to make ends meets;scaring away the little,squirmy fishes in the shallow pond,that need to thrive, breathe,and live freely,while Mega Investors,resembling giant sharks,were callously cut loose from a secure economic,financial net,and thrown ruthlessly,and unjustly into abysmal depths of oceans of bewilderment,and despair.

    Ask yourself how much forex are the little corner,and market guys in Sierra Leone trading,handling,and hording on the streets of Kono,or Freetown,that could somehow cause an already ailing Leone to collapse,depreciate,and lose its worth,and value against all the worlds major currencies?Lets be honest,there are no significant revenues coming from export of Ore,and Diamonds at the moment,that’s why our currency is struggling,and on life support.

  7. “ That foreign currencies found in the possession or under the control of anyone who engages or attempts to engage in foreign currency transactions at any place other than the registered business address of a licensed foreign exchange dealer shall be forfeited to the Bank of Sierra Leone.”

    Look no further Mr. Bank governor, a quick visit at the Lumley Beach area at night hours will reveal to you that, most of the current ministers and the politically connected carry nothing but foreign currencies during their happy hours. I guarantee you, visiting their homes will even result to millions of foreign currencies being recovered. So please, spare the poor black market boys just trying to make a living.

  8. Desperate measures roaring/barking at the back of the currency traders. With Coronavirus lockdown, super see-sawing of the value of the Leone, international air travel shutdown, State of Emergency and no exporting of diamonds from KONO CITY, they are desperate to find money for their survival. Can you imagine?

    Bottom line, no income and forex presently from KONO CITY. God help protect the proceeds from the diamonds from KONO CITY, from the hands of an unscrupulous state political DEN. God help the currency traders from the desperate claws of a broke regime.

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