Central Bank to start monitoring all exchange houses in real time

The monetary authority has made it mandatory for bureaus de change to use an electronic system for their transactions

The Central Bank started to require exchange houses and agencies to carry out all their transactions under an electronic system on Thursday, in a bid to further control their operations as the parallel U.S. dollar exchange rates soar.

The Electronic Operation System (SIOPEL, by its Spanish acronym) was implemented in 1999 for transactions including foreign currency operations and bond auctions. It allows the monetary authority to monitor exchange house operations in real time. 

“Most of the entities authorized to operate in foreign exchange already use SIOPEL for their operations,” the Central Bank wrote in a communiqué. “Now, exceptions for some exchange houses and agencies have been eliminated.”

After last week’s 22% devaluation, the official dollar exchange rate was fixed at AR$350. Meanwhile, the informal “blue” dollar rate is AR$730, the blue-chip swap or CCL rate is AR$771 and the MEP dollar is AR$666.4.

Differences between the exchange rates (and even inside different iterations of the same exchange rate) allow for different kinds of arbitrage. In Argentina, they are known as rulos, Spanish for “curls”. The Central Bank’s new provision aims to monitor the emergence of possible rulos.

Of the 214 exchange agencies that existed at the beginning of Alberto Fernández’s administration, 120 were shut down for various irregularities. Only 94 remain in operation. Of the 27 exchange houses in Argentina, only 12 are currently in operation, a trend that has likewise emerged since Fernández took office and the Central Bank increasingly tightened its controls.

This month, the government increased restrictions on U.S. dollar bonds and raided informal exchange houses known as cuevas (caves).

On Thursday, Customs and Airport Security Police raided 26 businesses in Buenos Aires City, Buenos Aires Province, and Misiones, including exchange houses. According toCustoms officials, the raids were part of a judicial investigation into a criminal organization that collected pesos from Chinese supermarkets, bought dollars in the informal market, and smuggled them to Paraguay.

The investigators found US$575,000 in cash in the Misiones city of Iguazú that was allegedly part of the maneuver.


All Right Reserved.  Buenos Aires Herald