Kenya: authorities freeze money transfer services

Money Transfer

The Kenyan government has listed 86 people and entities suspected of supporting terrorism in the country, including 13 money transfer services, in the wake of the recent Garissa University attack that left 147 students dead.

One of the money services is the popular Dahabshill money transfer used mostly by Somalis living in the country to send and receive money. The international money transfer has been at loggerheads with Britain over suspicion of money laundering and ties to terrorist groups.

Other money transfer services banned by the government include: UAE Exchange Money Remittance, Kendy Money Transfer, Continental Money Transfer, Amal Express Money Transfer, Juba Express Money Transfer, Iftin Express Money Transfer, Kaah Express Money Transfer, Amana Money Transfer, Bakaal, Express Money Transfer, Hodan Global Money Remittance and Exchange, Tawakal Money Transfer and Flex Money Transfer.

In a rejoinder, the Kenya Forex Bureau Association said that the closure of the money transfer services were illegal since they were approved by the Central Bank of Kenya (CBK).

The money transfers, previously operating as Hawalas or money transfer services based on promissory notes rather than actual movement of money, had neither regulation nor framework to track the sender and receiver.

In 2013, the CBK ordered the closure of all Hawalas. The Bureau Association says that now they are legal.

"Previously the Hawalas (as the money remittance providers were previously known) were operating without any legal framework and it is them who took it upon themselves and petitioned the government to licence them upon following a rigorous due process," said Anthony Wachira, CEO of the Association.

Wachira insisted that they were now operating under the law and that they were being monitored by the central bank of Kenya and the Financial Reporting Centre (FRC).

"We are greatly concerned that some of our legally operating members are classified with suspected terrorists," Wachira added. "As an association we would like to inform the public that we do not at any time support and encourage any of our members to engage in any way with terrorist or terrorist activities."

Wachira added that if any of their members were found in this position that they would bear the consequences alone.

The affected money transfer services have vowed to seek legal redress.
Source: ITWeb Africa  9 April 2015