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bashiir farayare source bbc The UK government is being urged to stop Barclays closing the last account in Somalia which allows its citizens overseas to send money back home. A group of aid practitioners said the service was a “lifeline” for an estimated 40% of the Somali population which rely on the transfers. There are an estimated 1.5m Somalis living overseas. Barclays told Dahabshiil the move was “a commercial decision due to the risks of the sector in which you operate”. “The decision to exit our business relationship with you is not a negative reflection of your anti-money laundering standards, nor a belief that your business has been unwittingly been a conduit for financial crime,” Barclays wrote in a letter sent to Dahabshiil. Barclays is the last major British bank to still provide such money transfer services in Somalia. The letter signed by more than 100 researchers and aid workers states that its plan to close its account with Dahabshiil – the largest money transfer business providing services to Somalia – on 10 July will cause a crisis for the families that rely on the transfers. Abdirashid Duale, chief executive officer of Dahabshiil, said Barclay’s decision could see money transfers pushed underground into the hands of “unregulated and illegal providers”. “Barclays’ decision to terminate its relationship with Dahabshiil results from changes in Barclays eligibility criteria, which have affected a large number of Barclays’ customers in the Money Service Business sector, including Dahabshiil,” Mr Duale added. Six-month extension The letters signatories want the UK government to ask Barclays to extend its termination deadline for at least six months. They also said they wanted the UK government to assist Somali money transfer businesses in finding alternative banking partners, as well as help the businesses develop the enhanced due diligence required by banks. The group estimates that almost three quarters of Somalis who receive funds from overseas use it to pay for basic food, education and medical expenses. It says one third of those who receive funds would not be able to afford basic food if the transfers are stopped. The UK Serious Organised Crime Agency has identified money service businesses generally as a potential money laundering risk. And all international banks have been tightening rules in a bid to cut money laundering and funding of groups accused of terrorism. “Some money service businesses don’t have the proper checks in place to spot criminal activity and could therefore unwittingly be facilitating money laundering and terrorist financing,” Barclays said in a statement. The bank emphasised that it was “very happy” to serve companies with strong anti-financial crime controls. Lifeline The Somali Money Services Association (SOMSA), an umbrella group of transfer services, said the closures would “have dire consequences in Somalia, where no alternatives to the money service businesses exist”. Of SOMSA’s 17 members, 12 have already had their accounts closed, with the remaining five facing “imminent” shutdown. “The key issue is the damage to flows of cash to the vulnerable Somali people, who depend on remittances for their livelihood; and the likely threat of this action to economic and political stability in fragile parts of the Somali region,” SOMSA said in a statement. Somalis send money back home via transfer shops known as hawala, which can accept deposits abroad and immediately credit recipients in Somalia.

The UK government is being urged to
stop Barclays closing the last account in
Somalia which allows its citizens
overseas to send money back home.
A group of aid practitioners said the service was
a “lifeline” for an estimated 40% of the Somali
population which rely on the transfers.
There are an estimated 1.5m Somalis living
overseas.
Barclays told Dahabshiil the move was “a
commercial decision due to the risks of the
sector in which you operate”.
“The decision to exit our business relationship
with you is not a negative reflection of your
anti-money laundering standards, nor a belief
that your business has been unwittingly been a
conduit for financial crime,” Barclays wrote in a
letter sent to Dahabshiil.
Barclays is the last major British bank to still
provide such money transfer services in
Somalia.
The letter signed by more than 100 researchers
and aid workers states that its plan to close its
account with Dahabshiil – the largest money
transfer business providing services to Somalia –
on 10 July will cause a crisis for the families that
rely on the transfers.
Abdirashid Duale, chief executive officer of
Dahabshiil, said Barclay’s decision could see
money transfers pushed underground into the
hands of “unregulated and illegal providers”.
“Barclays’ decision to terminate its relationship
with Dahabshiil results from changes in Barclays
eligibility criteria, which have affected a large
number of Barclays’ customers in the Money
Service Business sector, including Dahabshiil,”
Mr Duale added.
Six-month extension
The letters signatories want the UK government
to ask Barclays to extend its termination
deadline for at least six months.
They also said they wanted the UK government
to assist Somali money transfer businesses in
finding alternative banking partners, as well as
help the businesses develop the enhanced due
diligence required by banks.
The group estimates that almost three quarters
of Somalis who receive funds from overseas use
it to pay for basic food, education and medical
expenses.
It says one third of those who receive funds
would not be able to afford basic food if the
transfers are stopped.
The UK Serious Organised Crime Agency has
identified money service businesses generally
as a potential money laundering risk.
And all international banks have been tightening
rules in a bid to cut money laundering and
funding of groups accused of terrorism.
“Some money service businesses don’t have
the proper checks in place to spot criminal
activity and could therefore unwittingly be
facilitating money laundering and terrorist
financing,” Barclays said in a statement.
The bank emphasised that it was “very happy”
to serve companies with strong anti-financial
crime controls.
Lifeline
The Somali Money Services Association
(SOMSA), an umbrella group of transfer
services, said the closures would “have dire
consequences in Somalia, where no alternatives
to the money service businesses exist”.
Of SOMSA’s 17 members, 12 have already had
their accounts closed, with the remaining five
facing “imminent” shutdown.
“The key issue is the damage to flows of cash
to the vulnerable Somali people, who depend on
remittances for their livelihood; and the likely
threat of this action to economic and political
stability in fragile parts of the Somali region,”
SOMSA said in a statement.
Somalis send money back home via transfer
shops known as hawala, which can accept
deposits abroad and immediately credit
recipients in Somalia.

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