LETTERS: Forex bureaus not money laundering conduits

A forex bureau in Nairobi. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

What you need to know:

  • Forex bureaus have legally operated in Kenya since 1995 while Money Remittance Providers have been in operation from 2013 when the banking act was amended to incorporate their activities.

I would like to respond to an article titled “Forex bureaus a conduit for money laundering” published in the June 29,2018 edition of the Business Daily.

Forex bureaus have legally operated in Kenya since 1995 while Money Remittance Providers have been in operation from 2013 when the banking act was amended to incorporate their activities. Among the pioneer remittance providers are former Forex Bureaus who chose to exploit the emerging business opportunities. These bureaus and remittance companies are licensed and regulated by Central Bank of Kenya (CBK).Contrary to the erroneous and misleading heading of the referenced article, our members comply fully with all legal and regulatory requirements evidenced by their continued business operations for over two decades.

At least once a year, they are subjected to vigorous evaluation of their operations to gauge their compliance with all legal and regulatory requirements. This assessment includes Anti-Money laundering (AML) and Countering Financing of Terrorism (CFT) procedures. All our members are ‘reporting entities’ and registered with the Financial Reporting Centre (FRC).

As reporting entities they regularly submit reports, including suspicious transactions to the FRC. As an Association, we are at the forefront in combating money laundering and financing of terrorism and have conducted training for our members on the same. As a result, our members are well versed on the vexing issue of combating money laundering. Further, all our members are signatory to our ethical code of conduct.

As members of the Kenya Private Sector Alliance(Kepsa), we are also at the forefront in fighting corruption in the private sector.

This sub-sector made up of our members, significantly contribute to socio-economic development by way of providing Forex and Remittance services delivered through strategically located and easily accessible outlets, offering efficient customer service, competitive exchange rates, source of livelihood for thousands of households through direct and indirect employment of employees, suppliers and service providers, short term supply of Forex for Banks and source of revenue for the government through licensing fees and taxes and compliment tourism and hospitality industry.

The overall economic benefit from multiplier effect is substantial. The sector has recorded growth in terms of outlets, capacity to handle large volumes and footprints in major urban centre due over two decades of existence, growth and investment in tourism, hospitality sector and diaspora remittances.

Therefore, this growth is normal and should not be viewed in negative light. We also share the concerns and frustrations of the article author on economic crimes and the need to fight corruption as a society.

Corruption distorts the economy and affects all Kenyans including our members negatively. Our members are doing their part in fighting corruption by adhering to the strict laws and regulations on reporting of suspicious and cash transactions.

We are of the view that better regulatory compliance and enforcement can only be achieved through concerted efforts by all stakeholders, synergy and coordination of all enforcement Agencies and public buy-in. The media should take the lead role in championing this crucial public buy-in, through dissemination of accurate information.

This is why we take issue with the erroneous, prejudiced and misleading article and state the correct position that Forex Bureaus and money remittances are in terms of ownership, employment and footprints representative of the face of the country.

Our members are therefore not conduits for money laundering but significant contributors to socio-economic well-being of the country. As an Association, we subscribe to an open door policy and invite all interested parties to visit our offices whenever information on our members operations is required.

Mohamed Nur Ali, CEO, Kenya Forex & Remittance Association.

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