Belfast Telegraph

Barclays extends Somali deadline

Barclays Bank has agreed to continue providing banking services - pending a legal challenge - that allow thousands of Somalis living in the UK to send cash home.

The bank triggered legal action when it announced its intention to close the accounts of four money transfer and remittance companies over concerns the cash could be funding terror groups such as al-Shabab.

The dispute came to London's High Court today, but the case was adjourned for two weeks, during which Barclays has agreed to stay closure plans while the biggest money transfer organisation, Dahabshiil, applies for an injunction to stop the closure of its account.

A Barclays spokesman said: "We believe this case is baseless and the hearing has been adjourned to a date when the court can consider the issues fully. Barclays has given Dahabshiil a short extension during which time we hope it can finalise alternative banking services.

"Dahabshiil has already opened accounts with a new bank that allows them to make corporate and aid agency remittances to Somalia, but is still in the process of finalising arrangements for individual remittances."

Ben Phillips, Oxfam's campaigns and policy director, said: "Barclays' eleventh-hour decision offers a brief respite but more needs to be done to allow Somalis living in the UK to continue supporting their loved ones.

"Three other money transfer organisations still face closure today and a two-week extension is unlikely to be enough to find a workable solution. Barclays needs to keep all accounts open until a long-term answer is found.

"The Treasury should now show leadership by urgently pushing for a robust solution that ensures ordinary Somalis are not penalised by regulations intended to crack down on illicit financial flows."

The Central Bank of Somalia estimates that more than $1.5bn (£925m) is sent to the country each year.

Somali-born Mo Farah has joined the campaign to keep the cash transfers. The double Olympic and World Champion said the services are essential to families for food and other vital resources, and warned there could be a crisis if they are shut down.

Dahabshiil said in a statement that two other Somali money transfer companies have made similar applications to the court.

Popular