News: Ethiopia suspends more than $20mn allegedly accumulated in illegal foreign currency

Addis Abeba – Ethiopian Financial Intelligence Service (FIS) said it has suspended more than US$20 million which it said was allegedly accumulated in illegally collected foreign currency .

In a statement released on 26 December, the Service said it has confirmed through monitoring that various individuals have been engaged in illegal activities violating the Diaspora account directive meant to allow Ethiopians living abroad to open foreign currency accounts in local banks.

Accordingly, 85 individuals were suspected to have been engaged in the alleged illegal accumulation of a total of US$ 20,226,583, which has now been suspended and transferred to criminal investigation.

The alleged crimes were committed using various fake documents and fraudulence, such as providing false declarations pretending to have gone abroad, depositing a small amount of foreign currency into their accounts and pretending to have deposited a large amount of money having the varying amount collected illegally from the black market and deposited using fake documents and declarations.

Using other people’s declarations and opening multiple diaspora accounts in various banks in violation of the law have also been used according to the statement. Appropriate legal action would be taken against the individuals found complicit of the criminal act it added.

The service strongly urges those who are directly or indirectly involved in such criminal acts to refrain from it, realizing that they will not escape from legal accountability.

In September, the Ethiopian Finance Intelligence Service (FIS) had also warned agencies and local actors it accused of involving in illegal money transfer activities to refrain from their activities.

The next month, the National Bank of Ethiopia said it had closed 391 bank accounts and was ready to file criminal charges against the account holders who are suspected of engaging in illegal money transfer activities.

A list containing the names of the suspected individuals have been sent to Ministry of Justice pending criminal charges. AS

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