Dar es Salaam. Bank of Tanzania (BoT) governor Florens Luoga yesterday called for tougher penalties against those printing and circulating fake currency notes.
Prof Luoga spoke after police said they had arrested three suspects and seized counterfeit currency notes of various countries purportedly worth about Sh500 million.
The fake notes were in Tanzanian shillings, US dollars, Congolese francs and Mozambican meticals, and were impounded along with printing equipment, according to Dar es Salaam Special Police Zone Commander Lazaro Mambosasa
Prof Luoga said current punishment for the printing and circulation of counterfeit currency was “very lenient” compared to the impact of the offences on the economy.
“The mere imprisonment of culprits is far from being an effective deterrent. We need to make penalties much tougher so as to discourage others,” he said.
Prof Luoga added that there were countries where the punishment for printing fake bank notes was death.
Negative effects of counterfeit money include bringing down the value of a country’s currency and fuelling inflation.
Mr Mambosasa said the three suspects were arrested last Sunday during a police operation, which was part of a crackdown on the printing and circulation of counterfeit money in Dar es Salaam.
“We shall not rest until all culprits are arrested and prosecuted. Nobody who is involved in this criminal activity is safe. We will get them wherever they are,” he warned, adding that the suspects would appear in court soon.
Mr Mambosasa appealed to Dar es Salaam residents to volunteer information whenever they suspected that fake notes were being printed and circulated.
He added that there were plans for the Police Force and BoT to collaborate in educating members of the public and enabling them to identify fake notes.
“Counterfeiters have become smarter, and are now printing notes that are difficult to identify at a glance. This means that something needs to be done as far as raising public awareness is concerned.”
The confiscation of fake notes in Dar es Salaam came about two months after Hai District Commissioner Lengai ole Sabaya said local residents had surrendered to him Sh740,000 in counterfeit money.
He said officials from the BoT Northern Zone office has conducted and awareness campaign meant to make it easier for members of the public to identify counterfeit notes.
Mr ole Sabaya spoke following reports that counterfeiters were exchanging Sh1 million in fake notes for between Sh250,000 and Sh300,000 in genuine money.
It was reported that the fake notes were being circulated through mobile money agents, who were giving them to unsuspecting customers.
Police also arrested a suspect as he attempted to sell Sh11 million worth of fake notes.