Dar es Salaam. The Bank of Tanzania (BoT) said yesterday that it has taken 10 people to court in the recent few months to answer criminal charges relating to fake currency notes.
BoT is concerned that criminals were now targeting livestock and crop auctions as they seek to cash in on unsuspecting farmers and livestock keepers.
“We have taken to court 10 people in Dar es Salaam, Mwanza, Arusha, Moshi and Mbeya, and the operation is ongoing… The 10 include people found in possession of fake currency notes, as well as people who were found with machines used in the printing of counterfeit notes,” the BoT governor , Florens Luoga, said in a circulated video clip yesterday.
This is the second time in less than a year that the banking sector’s regulator is warning against the proliferation of fake notes in circulation.
In December last year, Prof Luoga called for tougher penalties against persons convicted of printing and/or circulating fake currency notes.
He spoke after the police said they had arrested three suspects and seized counterfeit currency notes of various nations purportedly worth about Sh500 million in all.
Yesterday, Prof Luoga circulated a video clip, warning that fake notes were still in the market, alerting the public that if the situation were left unchecked, it could adversely affect the economy at the individual and national levels.
The problem has been increasing rapidly despite efforts by BoT, the police and other security organs to surmount it. He called on the public to be vigilant against persons who may want to cash in on unsuspecting individuals who flock to election campaigns as the country heads for the October 28 polls.
He warned that if BoT’s mandate of controlling money circulation is illegally impacted, it would fuel inflation and bring the economy to its knees.
The 5-year jail term for persons convicted of possessing fake notes irrespective of how they obtained the counterfeits is not a deterrent.
“BoT and security organs have found that the culprits use auctions of cattle or agricultural produce to penetrate fake notes into the market… They use markets where farmers sell their crops to launder their fake notes,” he revealed.
The culprits also go to conference areas where they collude with those making payments to participants. At times, they make use of motorcycle riders who are given higher denominations of fake notes so that they purchase drinks in some shops and receive the change in genuine money.
“Even telecoms agents who sell mobile vouchers and transact money are also targeted with fake notes,” the governor said - calling upon Tanzanians to immediately report incidences of fake notes.
If fake money penetrates the market in large quantities, it would be difficult to remove them without adversely impacting the economy, he said.
He said the BoT was currently conducting an awareness programme for the public to understand how to recognize fake from genuine money.