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Time for Change

Foreign Exchange Association Call for Stronger Law Enforcement Against Illegal Moneychangers. But is the Problem Only Unlicensed Moneychangers?

(8/25/2013) 

The Association of Foreign Exchange Dealers in Bali (APVA-Bali) are growing increasingly frustrated with the number of illegal moneychangers operating on the Island. 
 
As reported by Bisnis Bali, Bali main and side streets are peppered with illegal moneychangers. What’s worse, according to APVA, is that the number of illegal moneychangers operating in Bali now outnumber the legal entities. 
 
The chairman of operating board of APVA-Bali, Ayu Astuti Dama, said: “We have had the opportunity to count the number of money-changers in Seminyak. In Seminyak up until the Bintang Supermarket there were 14 moneychangers. Of these 6 were registered and 8 were not. This means 57% of the money-changers in that area are illegal.”
 
She said the presence of illegal moneychangers operating in Bali was a real headache. She added that the weak coordination of law enforcement in Bali did little to deter the activities of illegal moneychangers.
 
“Look at them, they openly operate (illegal moneychangers). The marks of an illegal operation are so easy to spot, they have no license to show,” Ayu complained. "The responsibility to close illegal moneychangers remains with law enforcement."
 
“We have continued to try to bring illegal money changers into line, but we feel that they continue to violate the law and do things that cause losses to registered currency traders,” she said.
 
Ayu said the existence of illegal moneychangers, primarily in the Badung regency of Bal,i is difficult to curtail unless the police and law enforcement agencies become serious in their work. She said the illegal moneychangers are working for a quick profit and do not care if they damage Bali’s reputation in the process.
 
Ayu Dama reminded how a report by a Dutch filmaker on the practices of illegal moneychangers committing fraud against foreign tourists caused a momentary panic among both police and the governor. For this reason, APVA-Bali is again calling on the government to intensify efforts to close illegal currency changers.
 
When asked what her association was doing to curb the presence of illegal moneychangers in Bali, she explained that APVA members were consolidating and offering standardized rates for currency transactions.
 
The deputy director of Bank Indonesia for Bali and East Nusa Tenggara, Bimantoro, joined APVA’s call for action by the police and the public to close illegal moneychangers.
 
But Seriously, Folks
 
But is Ayu Dama's desire to lay the blame for fraud at the feet of illegal moneychagers completely justified?
 
Have a look at the now notorious film clip made by filmmaker Keese van der Spek of Dutch TV Channel SBS6 of a moneychanger in Kuta committing and openly admitting to cheating a customer. Click the embedded video and focus you eyes just over the moneychanger’s shoulder to see the emblem of the APVA prominently displayed as he cheats a customer. Sadly, such documentation suggests that being a registered member of APVA Bali may count for little as a guarantee of safety for visiting tourists.
 
If the errant moneychanger is, in fact, a member of APVA-Bali, then the problem runs much deeper than mere registration.