5 November 2013

Somalia: Dahabshiil Wins Injunction Against Barclays

Photo: Oxfam
Protesters outside a Barclays branch called for the bank to reverse its closure of an account held by Dahabshiil, the biggest company remitting money from the UK to Somalia.

press release

The High Court heard an application for an interim injunction to prevent Barclays Bank from terminating the banking services it provides to Dahabshiil, the largest African Money Transfer Operator (MTO) on 15/16 October 2013.

Today the Court handed down its judgment, granting an interim injunction which has the effect of preserving Dahabshiil's banking arrangements with Barclays until the conclusion of a full trial and has also awarded Dahabshiil the costs of seeking the injunction.

This is not just a victory for Dahabshiil. It is a victory for the millions of Somalis and other Africans, many of whose livelihoods depend on our services.

For Dahabshiil's customers the injunction means that they can continue to use Dahabshiil for the foreseeable future.

Dahabshiil's claim is about preserving competition in the market. Dahabshiil is small compared to the multinational giant Barclays. The core of Dahabshiil's case is that a dominant firm should not be allowed to push its customers out of the market or treat them differently without objective justification.

The court has, after careful consideration, stopped Barclays from doing this until the case is heard at full trial. We anticipate this will take place in 2014 if no solution is found earlier.

It is also important to remember that we are not just a business. We provide a lifeline service to Somalia and other African countries.

We enable Somalis to help themselves, by sending money to every corner of the Somali territories to enable relatives and friends to buy food, medicine and to pay for education. Remittances are also used for investment in business start-ups and property - remittances are helping Somalis get the country back onto its feet after two decades of war.

Our customers, including aid agencies like the Mo Farah Foundation, Oxfam and the UN, send vital assistance to Somalis, including those affected by the famine of 2011. Remittances outweigh aid. They help take the burden off British tax payers.

Being able to continue our operations also enables us to continue our big corporate social responsibility programme in the UK and in Africa. We build hospitals and schools. We build infrastructure and dig wells. We support communities all over the world.

Abdirashid Duale, Chief Executive of Dahabshiil, commented:

"We are extremely pleased that the Court has recognised the strength of our case. It is also good news for all our customers who are reliant on us to transfer money safely to the Somali region and all other countries in which we operate. They will continue to be able to do this for the foreseeable future. "

"It is unfortunate that we have been forced to take legal action when this could and should be resolved through dialogue. Dahabshiil complies with all existing regulatory requirements and we are confident in the strength of our systems. Our strong compliance record is reflected in the fact that we are a trusted partner to the United Nations and other international NGOs and development agencies. Our confidence in the strength of our case made us adamant to bring our case to the High Court."

"We have been a Barclays customer for 15 years and have always had a good relationship with them. We remain keen to meet Barclays and are prepared to agree any sensible criteria that they want to suggest so that we can continue our banking relationship."

"Meanwhile, we are encouraged by the UK Government's recent announcement that it is setting up an Action Group on Cross-Border Remittances and undertaking a pilot project to develop secure remittance channels to Somalia.

We are also encouraged by the support shown by other stakeholders including the Somali and US Governments, the World Bank, the African Development Bank, IGAD and others to assist us in finding a sustainable solution. We are committed to working with all stakeholders, including Barclays, to ensure that remittances continue to flow to the region through secure, legitimate channels."

"The Somali private sector, including Dahabshiil, is one of the few Somali success stories, that has helped keep the country afloat during more than decades of conflict, famine and other hardships. We urge the British government and others to build on this success, especially at a time when, with the help of the international community, Somalis are beginning to see light at the end of the tunnel."

"Finally, I would like to thank all of those - our loyal customers, our legal team, the community, academics, NGOs, international organisations, politicians in the UK and overseas, the media and many others who have been so supportive of us and the issue."

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InFocus

Court Grants Reprieve for Somali Money Transfers

Protesters outside a Barclays branch called for the bank to reverse its closure of an account held by Dahabshiil, the biggest company remitting money from the UK to Somalia.

A London court has ordered Barclays to allow the Dahabshiil money transfer firm to continue operations, giving a reprieve to most Somalis who depend on the service for aid and ... Read more »