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Sierra Leone clamps down on cryptocurrency traders

Sierra Leone officials said on Thursday two people have been detained in relation to an ongoing investigation on alleged operation of illegal financial transaction in the country.The institutions which are said to be owned and operated by some Nigerian nationals, were suspected of dealing in cryptocurrency with the intention of defrauding the public.

The Central Bank of Sierra Leone and the Sierra Leone Police in a joint press conference said preliminary investigation showed that some unsuspecting contributors have already parted with unspecified amount of monies which they believed they had invested in a legitimate business.

Mr Berestford Taylor, Assistant Director, Secretaries Department, BSL, said none of the institutions were registered with the central bank as required by law, and therefore they were operating illegally.

“The Banking Act, 2011 and the Other Financial Services Act, 2001 provide that no person shall engage in banking business, take deposits or issue financial products to the general public unless that person holds a valid licence issued by the Bank of Sierra Leone,” he stated at the press conference held at the Police Headquarters in Freetown.

Three separate raids were conducted between April 4 and 10 in three different locations in the capital city which resulted to the arrest and detention of the manager and secretary of one of the illegal companies named Rolling Point Network Limited. 

That raid reportedly resulted in the discovery of Le96.5million (US$….) and several documents that include membership forms, receipt boosk and a list of names of the contributors. 

Police Superintendent Martin Colya, head of the Anti-Fraud Unit at the Criminal Investigation Department (CID), added that the manager and staff of the second company, Wealth Gate Solution Company, were on the run.

All two companies were housed in buildings located in the central business district of the city. 

Supt Colya said that a third building which is suspected to have served as a branch for Rolling Point was already raided but without any arrest made.

The police say the suspected owners of the illegal businesses are based in South Africa.

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