KOTA KINABALU: It is illegal for Sabah tourist guides without a money-changing licence to provide such services to foreign tourists, says Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM).
An exposé by FMT had revealed that some tour guides provide money-changing services to tourists visiting the state.
A tour guide, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said some tour operators would give their tour guides loans of up to RM100,000 for this purpose.
The employers would then impose a small interest on the loan or get a cut of the profit from the foreign exchange transactions.
An officer at BNM’s Money Services Business Regulation Department in Kuala Lumpur told FMT only those with a licence were allowed to perform such a transaction.
“Only companies which have a licence issued by Bank Negara Malaysia through this department are allowed to perform such transactions.
“Also, only limited-liability companies or their agents who are also limited-liability companies, can carry out money-changing activities,” ,” the officer said, adding that BNM does not issue money-changing licences to an individual.
Heavy punishments await those who flout currency exchange regulations.
“Those engaging in money-changing services without a licence will be charged in court under Section 4 of the Money Services Business Act 2011.
“If convicted, offenders face a fine of no more than RM5 million, or not more than 10 years’ jail, or both,” the officer said.
Currency exchange services is not the only questionable activity found in the tourism industry as some travel companies and tour guides also organise protected wildlife dining trips for foreign tourists, FMT reported previously.
The Sabah Wildlife Department has hit out at such practices, warning tourism industry players that the department will take legal action against them.