Secret forex bureau exposed in Malawi

As Malawi is struggling to get foreign currencies, Golden Forex Bureau in Limbe which had connections with the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) government is secretly exchanging the forex and government officials and Asians are biggest customers.

Investigations reveal that the owner of the bureau is operating under a disguised name of a milling company called Fandez Rice Milling Company. It is operating behind Priceworth Wholesalers in Limbe.

The owner, popularly known as Faizal, has been bankrolling the DPP and was once arrested for corruption but released and has never appeared in court. He once bought bicycles for the DPP. He uses a British passport.

The late president Bingu wa Mutharika government also borrowed $5 million from the bureau to buy fuel.

The secret bureau is operating in Limbe and has a tinted door. A man called Akib is the one who helps customers at the bureau.

A Nyasa Times undercover reporter went to the bureau disguised like a customer and got the foreign currencies.

“I went there and bought South African Rands at K32 each against the bank rate of K20.00. The American Dollar is selling at K275 against the bank rate of K170,” said a Nyasa Times undercover correspondent who visited the bureau.

“When I bought the Rands, I was asked whether I wanted to collect them right there or in South Africa. Akib told me that if I wanted to collect the Rands in South Africa, he would give me a receipt with a code number and phone number to call while in South Africa. In South Africa, I would call the number and identify myself with the code number and agents would come where I would be and give me the money. It is a well calculated operation,” he said.

Some of the numbers appearing on receipts from the bureau which were given to clients to call while in South Africa to collect the Rands are  0724951767, 0722336713. Money exchanged is up to K3 million.

Further investigations reveal that Faizal is well connected with the Central Bank, First Merchant Bank and Ecobank.

A DPP official admitted that he was aware of the secret bureau and that most of the officials from the party and government get their forex there.

Observers called on Reserve Bank of Malawi to investigate and apply exchange controls.

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