In a bid to stabilize the foreign currency trading, Bank of Sierra Leone has prohibited foreign currency transactions by unlicensed operators, the Governor of the Central Bank said on Monday.

Professor Keifala M. Kallon told a news conference in Freetown that they will gazette the public notice today so that it will be enforceable thereafter.

“Pursuant to section 48 (3) of the Bank of Sierra Leone Act 2019, the governor of the Bank of Sierra Leone hereby directs as follows: Foreign currency trading [meaning, the buying and /or selling of foreign currency] shall be undertaken by only commercial banks and licensed foreign exchange bureaus; Street trading of foreign currency is expressly prohibited with immediate effect,” Governor Kallon emphasized.

“Buying foreign currency from, or selling foreign currency to persons or entities that are not commercial banks or licensed foreign exchange bureaus is strictly prohibited,” he said.

He pointed out that, contravening any of the directives shall constitute a violation of the Bank of Sierra Leone Act, 2019, adding that upon conviction, violators shall be liable to a fine of Le100 million or an imprisonment for a term not less than three years or both.

Professor Kallon said that they were mindful of the fact that the forex street traders need support, so the Bank has offered them three incentives: relax the requirement for starting a foreign exchange bureau; help them form themselves into cooperatives and then open foreign exchange bureaus, and after they have formed a cooperative, the Bank offers a one year rent for the places that they rented.

He disclosed that with all the incentives that the Bank offered to the black-market businessmen, they still want to remain in the street.

He said six months ago, the Bank issued directives on foreign currency, adding that this directive has worked very well in terms of stabilizing the foreign exchange.