Exchange offices Suri-Change closed for fear of new explosions

The exchange offices of Suri-Change in Amsterdam, Rotterdam and The Hague, which were closed after attacks with explosives, will remain closed for the time being. Amsterdam and The Hague closed all buildings of the Surinamese money exchange chain on Monday. Rotterdam did the same on Sunday with two branches.

With the closures, Amsterdam mainly wants to restore public order and prevent new explosions from causing casualties. The three cities do not have concrete indications of involvement of the owners in criminal activities. According to Amsterdam mayor Femke Halsema, that is likely. In similar incidents, affected entrepreneurs in most cases have “direct or indirect links with criminal networks”, she writes in the closing decisions.

It is difficult for the municipality to find out exactly what is going on: the owner of a property cannot be traced, so it was not possible to obtain information that way. According to Halsema, a six-month closure is “appropriate, proportionate and necessary”.

Also read this article: Explosion at money exchange office Suri-Change in Rotterdam

It is unknown whether a criminal investigation into drug money laundering and the attacks are related

Heavy explosives

The head office of Suri-Change in Rotterdam was already the target of shelling and explosions in January. That building was then closed for two weeks and placed under camera surveillance. In Amsterdam, three branches of the money exchange chain were the target of attacks in which heavy explosives were used. The investigations are still in full swing, suspects are not yet in the picture, according to the municipality.

Suri-Change is no stranger to investigative authorities and the Dutch Central Bank (DNB). DNB imposed a fine of 20,000 euros on the money office in 2014 for violations of money laundering and terrorist financing laws. Suri-Change is formally registered with DNB as a gold pledging and currency exchange office, as a gold shipping address and as a diamond exchange office, among other things.

In 2020, ABN Amro terminated its banking relationship with a Surinamese subsidiary, Surichange Bank, because, according to ABN Amro, the risks of reputational damage and money laundering were too great. About fifty thousand customers of Suri-Change in the Netherlands were able to transfer cash money through this banking institution, which was authorized in Suriname, and have it paid out in Surinamese dollars. ABN Amro received at the right right about her doubts about the reliability of Suri-Change. The bank was allowed to break off its relationship with Surichange.

A matter of breath

Last March, the Public Prosecution Service raided Suri-Change’s headquarters in Rotterdam. The assets of the family behind the company were seized. It is suspected that drug money is laundered through Suri-Change.

It is unknown whether that criminal investigation and the wave of attacks are related. Chairman Jan Struijs of the Dutch Police Union has told ANP news agency that investments must be made in uncovering the real, big story behind this. “On the basis of money flows from these types of exchange offices, a much broader view can be taken, including large criminal networks. That is a matter of patience, not of a result that you see within a few weeks.”

The attacks may have nothing to do with business operations, Halsema writes in her closure order. “But the living and living environment has been seriously affected by the shelling.” In Amsterdam-West, according to her, it was a building in a shopping street with three floors above the shops: “There could have been victims.”