14ymedio, Havana, 15 September 2020 — An operation coordinated by the Revolutionary Armed Forces and the Police in Santiago de Cuba dismantled a network that was dedicated to the sale of foreign currency for the acquisition of household appliances. Several employees of the exchange houses (Cadeca) and informal vendors were part of the group.
A report aired on Cuban Television revealed that some ATMs of the state exchange house did not register operations with foreign currencies in the system. The incoming foreign currency was transferred to various accomplices who sold magnetic card recharges to their customers interested in buying electrical appliances in freely convertible currency (MLC) stores.
During the operation, several electrical appliances were seized, 17 magnetic cards, eight of them for purchases in MLC, and cash: 250 euros, 8,365 dollars, 10,857 Cuban convertible pesos (CUC) and 18,180 Cuban pesos (CUP).
The official media also published that, last weekend in Pinar del Río, a citizen was arrested when he was closing a $500 exchange with another person. The police seized his car worth 10,080 dollars, about 39,000 Cuban pesos and 1,000 CUC, and when they searched his home they seized household appliances, with the justification that they are the product of illicit currency trafficking.
The accused, who is now in being held in prison, admitted that he was exchanging CUC and dollars and asked for 150 CUC for 100 dollars. The police also found links between the man and three employees of a branch of the Bank of Credit and Commerce of Cuba (Bandec), in the municipality of Pinar del Río.
Between July and August, the Police arrested two people residing in Havana and another from Camagüey for the same crime. Between the two events, the authorities seized 5 million Cuban pesos in different foreign currencies.
Until less than a year ago, Cubans could buy dollars and other currencies in banks and exchange houses, but at present, that option does not exist and banks are not authorized to sell foreign currencies.
The government ordered foreign currency to be collected and it is only sold in small quantities at airports. Since the end of 2019, a new regulation obliges travelers to get rid of their ‘chavitos’ (CUC) before leaving the Island, which causes endless lines at the Cadeca of the air terminals, where they can only exchange a maximum of 300 CUC.
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