Crime and Courts

Illegal forex dealers denied bail

THE 65 illegal foreign currency dealers who were arrested on Friday last week were yesterday remanded in custody pending a ruling on their bail application tomorrow.

The dealers were arrested during a police blitz in Harare’s central business district (CBD) for allegedly contravening the Exchange Control Act.

Harare magistrate Dennis Mangosi is expected to make a bail ruling when the dealers return to court tomorrow.

Prosecutor Lancelot Mutsokoti said on April 19 this year, police detectives who were on surveillance in the CBD targeting people dealing in illegal foreign currency reportedly spotted money changers gathered on the pavement at a fast food outlet along Mbuya Nehanda Street in Harare.

Mutsokoti told the court that the suspected forex dealers were soliciting for United States dollars from passers-by and people who intended to buy from the fast food outlet.

He said the illegal forex dealers failed to explain what they were doing at the entrance of the shop and subsequent searches led to the recovery of US dollars.

The police also seized their mobile phones with checks on their text messages revealing that they had made several transactions through mobile money transfers in both ZiG currency and US dollars.

The suspected forex dealers were also found in possession of various point-of-sale machines and five automated teller machine cards proving that they were illegally dealing in foreign currency.

Meanwhile, the detectives visited Chisipite shopping centre where they posed as potential clients and the forex dealers there offered them an exchange rate of ZiG15:US$1.

One of the suspected dealers reportedly agreed to change US$10 for the detectives and transferred the equivalent in ZIG at the agreed rate to the detective’s mobile money account.

The forex dealer reportedly transferred ZiG150 to an account furnished by the detectives leading to the arrest of two dealers.

Further searches led to the recovery two bank debt cards, a point-of-sale machine and US$589.

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