DAHABSHIIL which says it’s the biggest Africa-based money-transfer business, appealed Kenya’s suspension of its operations and rejected allegations it finances “terrorist organisations.”
The Dubai-based company is among 85 entities and individuals whose assets Kenya has frozen because they are “suspected to be associated” with Al-Shabaab.
The sanctions were introduced by the government on April 7 after the Islamist militant group, which is linked to al-Qaeda, claimed responsibility for an attack on a university in northeastern Kenya in which at least 147 people died.
“For the avoidance of doubt, Dahabshiil, including its Kenya operation, has no involvement whatsoever with the funding of terrorist organisations,” the company said in an e-mailed statement dated April 12.
Dahabshiil has “never previously been the subject of any investigation of any kind in relation to alleged terrorist funding,” it said.
Kenya’s police force on April 10 invited the listed entities and individuals to attend the National Counter- Terrorism Centre in the capital, Nairobi, “to demonstrate why they should not be declared a specified entity.”
Two other groups on the list—Muslims for Human Rights and HAKI Africa - - have also denied any links to Al-Shabaab.
The action by Kenya, if sustained, “will have devastating repercussions for a large number of people in Somalia who rely on remittances sent from the Kenyan region,” Dahabshiil said.
The suspension also adds to remittances headaches for Somalis who have increasingly come under the squeeze in the United States.
Starting February, many banks in the US have largely stopped servicing the accounts used by money transfer operators to help diaspora Somalis send money to their families and networks back in Somalia.
The country lacks a central banking system and heavily relies on these remittances—which some projection say account for nearly half of its GDP.