Central Bank announces currency exchange restrictions in Turkmenistan

ASHGABAT (TCA) — On January 12 the Central Bank of Turkmenistan published on its website a press release on introducing restrictions on free currency exchange in the country. The announcement for print media, however, was offered only in the Turkmen language. The press release is not available on the Russian or English versions of the website. Below is the translation of the announcement, made by the independent website Chronicles of Turkmenistan.

“A wide range of opportunities have been created in the epoch of prosperity in our independent country to carry out internal and international transactions using Visa and Mastercard international payment systems and to purchase foreign currency via bank accounts.

“With a view to expanding opportunities for reciprocal non-cash transactions and executing Turkmenistan’s law ‘On combating money laundering and financing of terrorism’ effective 12 January 2016, certain amendments to regulations pertaining to selling foreign currency to individuals will be imposed in authorized credit organizations which buy and sell foreign currency within the country or their exchange offices in Turkmenistan.

“In keeping with the current maximum limit of foreign currency of 1000 (one thousand) US dollars a month (or its equivalent in another currency) sold to individuals, conditions have been created to transfer foreign currency purchased by an individual to the account of his international card (Visa, MasterCard); to obtain cash in manats to purchase foreign currency only by making payment from an individual’s personal manat account; to purchase foreign currency for cash only if income statement is presented and make reciprocal bank wire transfers between members of the family, including in foreign currency.

“Moreover, conditions have been established to provide unhampered access to online payments by individuals through international cards to pay for international airlines tickets within the balance of foreign currency held in bank accounts,” the press release said.

In other words, Turkmen citizens can now buy foreign currency only in the non-cash form by transferring it to their international bank card accounts — and not more than $1,000 per month.

It was reported last week that banks in Turkmenistan stopped selling US dollars.  

Authorities have also fully banned the black-market currency exchange on Turkmen bazaars and police now catch illegal currency exchangers and take them to police stations.      

Turkmenistan, whose main export is natural gas, devalued the manat by about 19 percent to 3.5 manats per dollar on January 1, 2015.

Sergey Kwan