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BoB shuts down local Forex Ponzi scheme

Publishing Date : 14 May, 2018

Author : TSAONE SEGAETSHO

Bank of Botswana has taken a decision to close down a local forex trader Aquapanel (Pty) Limited (Aquapanel) after establishing that the company had been soliciting and taking deposits from members of the public without a valid license.


According to the central bank statement released on Tuesday, the forex dealer had been conducting a ponzi scheme by commissioning and facilitating illegal deposit-taking activities contravening Section 3(1) of the Banking Act, which restricts transacting banking business and/or soliciting deposits of money to licensed banks.


“It is also a criminal offence, punishable by law, for any person to promote and participate in the aforementioned illegal activities in Botswana. Section 5(1) of the Act empowers the Bank to investigate a person or entity suspected to be conducting unlicensed banking business and/or illegal deposit-taking activities. According to the Act, when investigations confirm the contravention, subject to other intervening measures, the illegal activities shall be suspended forthwith,” said the central bank.


The forex company owned by 28 year old Motswana Shima Moeng Phorie was shut down by the central bank indefinitely. BoB ordered the company which operated from rented premises at Grand Park, Unit B4/S11, Block 5 in Gaborone to “cease and desist from conducting the illegal business”.    If Aquapanel or Phorie and others are found guilty of contravening bank laws, they are liable to a fine of P2 500 for each day on which the offence occurs and to imprisonment for five years.


The central bank further stated that: “Given the enhanced financial technology, online platforms present complications to the investigations of some illegal deposit-taking operations, countries of origin and issues of licensing in different jurisdictions. Therefore, members of the public are advised to be vigilant when making investment decisions, particularly through use of online platforms. Participation in illegal schemes inevitably results in losses of money; consequently, the public is urged to desist from participating in them. The Bank, together with other regulatory authorities, will continue to monitor and take appropriate measures to contain the spread of illegal deposit-taking activities.”


Aquapanel has been operating since December last year according to investigations by this publication and it only took a month or two for BoB to foil the forex dealer’s illegal activities after complaints by members of the public. A former employee or director at the company confirmed to this publication that the company had long been closed down on 6 March 2018.


The former associate of Aquapanel does not know why the company was shut down but knew that the authorities citied illegalities on their operations. Phorie’s mobile number was not going through at the time of going to print. According to the company’s website, Phorie got inspiration to trade in forex from the controversial South African forex dealer and self proclaimed millionaire Ref Wayne on social media and when he came to Botswana in 2017.

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