Butiama Bed & Breakfast

Butiama Bed & Breakfast

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Here are some money laundering techniques that you can try

I had the occasion to launder some US currency this year. As I saw it then I had no choice and I did not think there would be consequences.

The saga began when I traveled to Harare, Zimbabwe for a workshop and after the organizers refunded me some of the meeting expenses, including an old US dollar 100 banknote. I didn’t think much of it until I tried to change the money in Tanzania.

The bureaus de change would not take it because it was an old banknote and they told me they do not accept banknotes that are older than a particular year. I do not remember what the cut-off year was.

I tried many bureaus in both Mwanza and Tanzania and finally gave up before I thought of depositing the note with my bank. I made the assumption, taking a cue on how banks handle old Tanzanian banknotes, that they would accept an old US dollar bill and find the means to send it back to the printers and get a new one. 

I was wrong. Not even my bank would take the banknote. An employee told me that they would not be able to sell the banknote to a Tanzanian clientele composed mostly of individuals who are extremely choosy in what type of banknote they will accept. These are individuals who are experts at trying to pass on an old banknote to someone else but would not accept one themselves.

I almost gave up and then decided to ask someone who frequently travels abroad how he handles the tricky issue of exchanging these old notes into Tanzanian shillings. Easy, he told me: just iron the banknote and remove the creases and it would look as new as they want.

I took the advice and decided to add what I thought would be a foolproof spin to it. I would wash the banknote before I ironed it. So I washed the note and carefully ironed it and was extremely satisfied with the results. But even that was not good enough for Tanzanian money changers, who have imposed higher standards for accepting foreign currency that even the issuers themselves.
Not good enough for Tanzanian money changers.
I have an extra wallet that has a small collection of foreign banknotes left over from travels in Rwanda, Uganda, Ghana, and a few other African countries. And that is where my old US dollar banknote ended up until I traveled to the United States early this year and some supermarket worker accepted it without hesitation.


And this is my story of how I was forced to launder dirty money from Zimbabwe in Tanzania and succeeded in spending the money in the United States. And, as I expected, there weren’t any consequences.

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