Tajikistan to introduce jail terms for ‘illegal’ foreign-currency exchange

DUSHANBE (TCA) — The National Bank of Tajikistan is drafting amendments to the country’s Criminal Code to introduce jail terms of up to nine years for “illegal hard-currency exchange operations,” National Bank Chairman Jamshed Nurmakhmadzoda told reporters in Dushanbe on January 26, Avesta news agency reported.   

He said that any hard-currency exchange operations outside of banks and official financial institutions were illegal.

The draft amendments will be submitted to the Government and then to Parliament of Tajikistan.

According to the chief banker, the amendments aim at curbing illegal speculation with hard currency that led to the abrupt devaluation of the Tajik currency, the somoni.

In December, Tajik authorities shut down all independent currency-exchange offices operating across the country, citing the somoni’s dropping value.

Tajik citizens complain that banks buy hard currencies low and sell them high, prompting many to turn to the black market, where the rates, they say, are “more reasonable,” RFE/RL’s Tajik Service reported.

Speaking to journalists yesterday, the National Bank head also refuted rumors about possible re-opening of the closed exchange offices in the country.

He also said that last year the exchange rate of the somoni to the US dollar weakened by 38.6 percent due to many factors including speculations, Tajikistan’s decreasing exports, and the situation in the international financial market.

Sergey Kwan


Sergey Kwan has worked for The Times of Central Asia as a journalist, translator and editor since its foundation in March 1999. Prior to this, from 1996-1997, he worked as a translator at The Kyrgyzstan Chronicle, and from 1997-1999, as a translator at The Central Asian Post.
Kwan studied at the Bishkek Polytechnic Institute from 1990-1994, before completing his training in print journalism in Denmark.

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