Western Union to resume remittance operations

Monday, July 21, 2003

US-based money transfer giant Western Union will restart limited operations in Venezuela following a six-month lay off due to government-backed foreign exchange restrictions, local daily El Universal reported.

Western Union's renewed operations in Venezuela will be restricted to the receipt of local currency remittances emanating from abroad with the US-company still awaiting authorisation from the country's foreign exchange commission Cadivi to administer money transfer operations emitted from Venezuela.

The same restrictions will also be placed on the reactivated remittance operations of local banks Banco Caroni and Banco Guayana, the paper said.

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Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez ordered a ban on foreign exchange transactions in February after a two-month nationwide strike to depose him fell apart. The strike seriously disrupted the economy, especially the state run oil industry which is a key source of government revenues.

Cadivi was subsequently empowered to allocate scarce foreign currency to priority sectors. Chavez has threatened to withhold foreign currency from businesses that participated in the strike.

Western Union provides the transfer of money to more than 150,000 Western Union Agent locations in over 185 countries worldwide - the largest network of its kind, according to the company. Western Union is a subsidiary of US-based First Data Corp. (NYSE: FDC).