Public statement on banks' closure of Somali Money Service Business accounts used by Diaspora to send money home to Somalia.

3 July 2013

Degan Ali, Executive Director of Adeso said:

As is the case elsewhere in the world, Money Service Businesses in the UK allow Somali migrants and humanitarian organizations to send vital funds to families in Somalia, who often rely on those funds to meet their basic needs. Soon to be published research supported by Adeso and Oxfam suggests that Somali migrants in the UK send $162 million (over £100 million) per year back to Somalia via Money Service Businesses. This figure provides crucial support to countless Somalis, at least one million of whom are still reliant on humanitarian aid.

Money Service Businesses’ capacity to operate is dependent on their ability to use bank accounts in the UK and elsewhere. By closing the accounts that enable these transfers, banks are effectively closing off a lifeline for millions of Somalis.

Concerns about the vulnerability of these accounts to terrorist and fraudulent activity are understandable but by no means insurmountable. Instead of closing Somali accounts, banks should assist Money Service Businesses by informing them of any new procedures required to alleviate their concerns. The soon to be published research shows that Somali Money Service Businesses are committed to meeting international regulations on anti-terrorism and money laundering, which is reflected in their internal controls and procedures put in place to mitigate risks. Banks should support the vital services that Money Service Businesses provide to the millions of Somalis they serve. This may require a review of practices and regulations, but will ultimately ensure that money continues to reach the people who need it the most.