BUENOS AIRES, Oct 21 (Reuters) - Argentine police forces
have carried out a series of raids to crack down on foreign
currency trafficking, a government source said on Wednesday,
which comes as the country looks to counter a FX crisis that has
seen black market dollar trades flourish.
The raids are part of nearly two-year investigation into
suspected money laundering, foreign currency trafficking and
potential drug trafficking by organizations with ties to
Bolivia, Chile and Peru, the official added.
The raids come as Argentina has moved to bolster capital
markets with a series of new measures to improve liquidity and
reduce volatility that has risen in recent months.
Argentine authorities are trying to rein in a huge gap
between the official peso exchange rate and
alternative trades, some illegal and some legal workarounds that
enable individuals and companies to access greenbacks.
The black market rate and the so-called blue-chip swap rate
were around 183 pesos and 176.6 pesos per dollar on Wednesday,
over double the 78 peso price via the official rate. There are
strict restrictions on Argentines buying dollars and a steep
levy to obtain them.
The South American country is battling a long-running
economic crisis, with an expected 12% contraction this year, and
is gearing up to negotiate a new program with the International
Monetary Fund after emerging from a sovereign default.
Recent measures to bolster the capital market include
reduced "parking" periods that investors have to hold securities
before being allowed to trade them, moves to improve liquidity
of local instruments and a planned $750 million debt issuance.
(Reporting by Jorge Otaola; writing by Cassandra Garrison
Editing by Marguerita Choy)