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The BCRA will Stop Persecuting 60,000 People for Foreign Exchange Violations that no Longer Exist

The legal criterion for processing foreign exchange summary proceedings was modified, reinstating 80% of natural or legal persons who are currently under investigation on foreign exchange criminal matters, mostly for minor infringements. This will free 60,000 people from the burden of summary proceedings. They will no longer be accused of operations that today are considered fully legitimate.

The Board of the BCRA instructed the Superintendence of Financial and Exchange Institutions (Superintendencia de Entidades Financieras y Cambiarias, SEFyC) to authorize the application of the legal principle of “retroactive criminal law when it is beneficial to the accused” in foreign exchange criminal matters. The decision is based on case law issued by Argentina’s Supreme Court of Justice, specifically in the rulings "Cristalux" and "Docuprint", in which the highest court determined that the most beneficial regulations issued by the public administration at a later date apply to criminal offenses previously considered to be in breach of the foreign exchange criminal regime.

Based on this decision, summary or pre-summary proceedings initiated for breaches of foreign exchange restrictions that are no longer in force will cease. Just to mention some examples, buying foreign currency for tourism purposes without submitting supporting documents of the trip, withdrawing US dollars from foreign ATMs in excess of the limits allowed at the time, exceeding the limits set for sending remittances to support family members, or evidencing inconsistencies in validation codes. The new scheme will also guide SEFyC’s resources and actions towards the investigation of more serious and larger scale foreign exchange violations, while speeding up the procedural time for such investigations and dealing more efficiently with the most recent cases.

In this way, 80% of Individual Taxpayer Numbers (Código Único de Identificación Tributaria, CUIT) that are now banned from operating in the Free and Single Foreign Exchange Market (Mercado Único y Libre de Cambios, MULC) will no longer be persecuted for foreign exchange violations. This last calculation does not include those cases in which the violation investigated relates to foreign trade regulations. Following the unification of the foreign exchange market established last December, the BCRA seeks to ensure that the foreign exchange market operates without limits to economic growth, while controlling strict compliance with current regulations.

July 18, 2016

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