Cash crunch hits some KL moneychangers after S$2.7 million theft

Some moneychangers in Kuala Lumpur are suffering a cash shortage because of a RM8 million (S$2.7 million) theft. PHOTO: REUTERS

KUALA LUMPUR (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Some moneychangers in the city could be facing supply problems after a major currency wholesaler here suffered a RM8 million (S$2.7 million) theft.

The currency wholesaler in the moneychanging industry is a parent agency that distributes cash to other outlets.

According to sources, a staff member absconded with the money, which was meant to be distributed to other agencies on Friday (Jan 26).

Some moneychangers in the city are now suffering a cash shortage because of the theft, although those in the trade assured consumers that there is enough in the market to meet overall demand.

Bukit Aman Commercial Crime Investigation Department (CCID) director Comm Datuk Amar Singh has confirmed the case.

"I can't reveal any details at the moment but I can confirm that we are investigating," he said on Sunday (Jan 28).

According to sources, the theft may have been an inside job involving more than one person.

"There is a major internal investigation into how this could have happened," said one source.

A check at six moneychangers in a major shopping centre here showed it was mostly business as usual despite the reported theft.

There were long lines of customers queuing at the moneychangers as passers-by studied the exchange rate boards on Sunday afternoon.

Two of the moneychangers were fully staffed to cope with the weekend crowd.

Another outlet next door was quiet with no customers as 15 out of the 20 currencies it deals in were listed as "sold out".

The only available currencies were euros, Singapore dollars, Brunei dollars, Canadian dollars and New Zealand dollars.

Asked if it was unusual for them to be sold out, the tellers said there was nothing out of the ordinary.

"It is normal for us to be sold out as sometimes, we do not receive our stock on weekends," said one teller, who declined to be named.

The staff said they were not aware of any theft within the industry.

Malaysian Association of Money Services Business president Ramasamy K. Veeran said he was not able to comment on the theft.

"If the report is found to be true, the relevant authorities will investigate.

"We do not foresee any issue servicing market demands as we have five currency wholesalers serving the market and they are well capitalised," he told The Star.

In a Bernama report in September, Ramasamy had projected the moneychanging business for last year to be worth about RM80 billion nationwide, and estimated the wholesale currency business at RM15 billion.

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