Kenya moves to cut off funding for al-Shabaab

Somali women carry weapons during a demonstration organised by the islamist Al-Shabaab group which is fighting the Somali government in Suqa Holaha neighbourhood of Mogadishu, on July 5. The Kenya government has moved to cut off funding for the group.

Kenya is moving to tighten financial screws on Nairobi-based businessmen suspected of bank rolling Somalia insurgency group al-Shabaab.

The Central Bank of Kenya has directed all banks to monitor the financial transactions of the businessmen who are on a United Nations blacklist.

Known as UN 1267, the list contains names of all the rebel sympathisers who are said to be financing their battle for the control of Mogadishu.

The insurgents, said to be closely linked to Osama bin Laden’s al-Qaeda terror group, already control large swathes of the lawless country.

They have been battling forces of the weak Transitional Federal Government which is backed by an African Union Peace mission comprised mostly of Ugandan and Burundian soldiers.

CBK says all banks and financial institutions are required to regularly check the UN list as part of their Anti-Money Laundering efforts and make quarterly reports to it .

In April 2010, the United Nations Security Council listed a number of individuals and one entity as the main financiers of conflict in Somalia in contravention of the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1884 of 2008.

The list includes Yasin Ali Baynala, Hassan Dahir Aweys, Hassan Abdullahi Hersi Al Turki, Ahmed Abdi Mohamed, Faud Mohamed Khalaf, Bashir Mohamed Mohamoud, Mohamed Said and Fares Mohammed Mana’a.

In October 2009, a UN agency began investigating three Somalia businessmen with diverse business interests in Kenya on allegations of funding al Shabaab.

These included Abdulkadir Enos, Abukar Umar Adanu and Mohammed Deylaf .

The CBK memo to banks was sent on August 9 by the Banking Supervision Division. It directs the financial institutions to monitor and report suspicious movement of large amounts of money out of the country or to individuals and institutions.

The banks and financial institutions are required to inform the CBK about any transaction amounting to $10,000 (Sh800,000) or more.

The memo tells banks to ‘‘review all existing accounts with the object of ensuring that none of the accounts domiciled in the institutions is linked to any of the designated individuals or entities.”

It was sent to Chief Executives of commercial banks, non-financial institutions and mortgage finance companies.

As a member of the United Nations, Kenya has signed many international treaties on money laundering.

In the memo, the CBK calls on all institutions to comply with the requirements of these treaties.

“The Central Bank further advises institutions to ensure that they conduct enhanced Customer Due Diligence when dealing with High Risk Customers.”

The banks were expected to submit their first returns in September to confirm if they comply with the requirements.

The memo comes hardly two months after CBK and the Kenya Revenue Authority jointly conducted a major operation on more than126 foreign exchange bureaus in Kenya to see if they comply with the regulations.