Sabahi (Washington, DC)

12 July 2013

Somalia: Barclays' Decision to Close Cash Transfer Business Accounts Meets With Criticism

United Kingdom-based Barclays Bank's decision to close about 100 accounts of money transfer businesses over fears they have inadequate prevention measures against money laundering has been met with widespread criticism.

"Barclays money transfer shutdown must be reviewed -- it damages Somalia for no good reason -- lifeline for our people," tweeted Somali Prime Minister Abdi Farah Shirdon on Thursday July 11th.

Barclays has granted several businesses a one-month reprieve, including Dahabshil, the largest provider of cash transfer services in Somalia, the BBC reported Wednesday (July 10th).

Dahabshil said it is urgently trying to meet Barclays's standards to keep the account open, as Barclays is the last major UK bank providing services to these transfer businesses.

The announcement has raised concerns about the transfer of remittances from Britain to Somalia, which supports about 40% of the population in the absence of banking services in the country.

"Closing these accounts will lead to a humanitarian crisis in Somalia," said Dominic Thorncroft of the UK Money Transmitters Associations.

Chief Executive Officer of Dahabshil Abdirashid Duale also warned that closure of the transfer businesses could force operations toward "unregulated and illegal providers".

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