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Denmark: Dahabshiil at risk for money laundering

September 16, 2014

Offices of the money transfer company Dahabshiil, which operates primarily in Somalia, have been found “completely inadequate” in their compliance with anti-money laundering and terrorist financing laws in Denmark, and the company has been referred to the police for further investigation.

The Danish Financial Supervisory Authority (FSA) began an investigation of Dahabshiil’s offices in Copenhagen, Kolding, Aalborg, and Aarhus in July 2013, and concluded by July 2014 that Dahabshiil “has violated the essential elements of the Money Laundering Act.” FSA found that Dahabshiil’s employees in Denmark received zero training on compliance with the Danish Money Laundering Act, and employees have reported zero cases of suspicious customer transactions over the past five years. The FSA also determined that the destinations of Dahabshiil’s money, Kenya and Somalia, are “countries that have totally inadequate rules to combat money laundering and terrorist financing.”

In response to the FSA’s findings, Dahabshiil denied that its company would be “abused by criminals.”

Financial crime consultant Kenneth Rijock offers the following analysis of FSA’s findings:

Apparently, the local [Danish Dahabshiil] offices had no compliance regime whatsoever, and relied upon the parent entity…

If an EU member nation has taken the trouble to conclude that Dahabshiil represents an unacceptable level of risk, a major UK bank [Barclays] sought to exit the relationship, and ties with Al-Shabaab, which the United States attacked today, and reportedly killed it leader, as representing a clear and present danger to American interests, why can’t OFAC finally smell the coffee, and designate it? Has pressure been exerted by Midwest politicians, who have large Somali expats in their district, and how much more evidence is necessary for sanctions to be imposed?

When I write about high-risk individuals, who are guilty of committing financial crimes, so that compliance officers will know to decline to onboard them as bank clients, I have found that OFAC often doesn’t sanction them for a number of years after the bad news is in the public domain. Why wait so long? There has to be a faster way to identify financial criminals, and terrorist financiers.

Indeed. The FSA’s findings were scarcely reported in Denmark this summer, much less in the United States. Compliance departments have a right to know what allegations and criminal referrals have been made against Dahabshiil.  U.S. financial regulators have some catching up  to do.

In addition to these compliance deficiencies, Money Jihad has previously reported that Dahabshiil makes recurring payments to the al-Shabaab terrorist organization in exchange for the “privilege” of operating in Somalia. Member of Parliament Saado Ali Warsame was slain this summer three years after recording a song describing Dahabshiil’s financing of terrorism and announcing her belief that Dahabshiil had put a bounty on her head.

Meanwhile, several U.S. agencies and politicians are pursuing new ways to ease remittances to Somalia through companies like Dahabshiil.

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