By Babajide Komolafe
Lagos-Officials of the Department of State Services (DSS) yesterday raided the offices of some bureaux de change (BDC) in Lagos, and arrested operators selling above the stipulated exchange rate of N385 per dollar.
BDC sources, who confirmed this development to Vanguard said DSS operatives visited Hajj Camp and Murtala Muhammed International Airport and closed BDCs selling dollars above the exchange rate of N385 per dollar.
The CBN allows each BDC to buy dollars from Travelex at N381 per dollar and sell to end users at N385 per dollar.
Vanguard investigations reveal that the DSS operatives posed as end-users who came to purchase dollars from the BDCs. After surveying the market for exchange rate offerings, it was gathered that they arrested some BDC operators who sold above the CBN exchange rate of N385.
Also speaking, a BDC trader, who spoke under anonymity, said the arrest had triggered fear among BDC operators.
He said: “I learnt that the DSS are going round BDCs. Yesterday they went to Airport and the Hajj camp, warning them about buying and selling exchange rate. If you sell above N385 per dollar, they will arrest you. So, the whole market is paralysed. Nobody is buying; nobody is selling because you don’t know who you may be transacting with. If anybody asks for dollars, you tell them you don’t have. They want people to be hoarding dollars, and this will strengthen the roadside currency hawkers because when people cannot buy from BDCs, they will be forced to patronise black market operators.”
Another BDC Chief Executive confirmed the development to Vanguard. Speaking on condition of anonymity, she said: “Yes I heard that DSS are raiding the offices of BDCs. Few people confirmed to me that they (DSS) have come to them. They have gone to Hajj Camp and other places, arresting people who are selling above the official rate. Although they are doing it secretly but those who witnessed the arrest have informed us.”
Also confirming the development, President Association of Bureaux De Change Operators of Nigeria (ABCON), Alhaji Aminu Gwadabe told Vanguard: “They (DSS) have called us, they have warned us, to warn our members that selling above the CBN stipulated exchange rate is not allowed.”