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Somalia replaces central bank chief criticised in U.N. report

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Thursday, September 19, 2013


Abdusalam Omer has been replaced as Somalia's central bank governor after seven months in the job, he said on Thursday, once again strongly denying graft allegations made by United Nations monitors.

The allegations in a U.N. report linking him to irregularities regarding millions of dollars withdrawn from the bank have also been formally rejected by the Somali government.


The U.N. Monitoring Group on Somalia and Eritrea said in July that Mogadishu's central bank had become a "slush fund" for political leaders and that Omer had played a central role in irregularities surrounding unaccountable disbursements.




Omer, who has labelled the allegations malicious, said he was informed by President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud on Sept. 13 that changes would be made at the bank. He submitted a letter of resignation the same day, he said.


Somalia has been struggling to rebuild its institutions and battered finances after two decades of conflict and chaos. Better management of public finances is seen by donors as vital to secure a recovery, debt relief and budget support.


Speaking in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi, Omer told Reuters by phone he was given no reason for the decision.


But he said it "is a possibility" that the government decided to remove him as a result of the report, even though an international probe commissioned by Mogadishu had dismissed its findings.


"My thinking is this: that if you play by the rules and you assemble a team, both diaspora and local people, and try to reform a dormant and important institution called the central bank, I guess you have no place in Somalia," Omer said.


He said he would return to Somalia next week to conduct a handover.


A Somali financial source and Somali media said Omer's replacement was Yussur Abrar. One Somali report said Abrar, who has worked in commercial banking abroad, was the country's first woman governor of the central bank.


Officials could not immediately confirm the new appointment.


In Omer's letter of resignation, obtained by Reuters, the former governor listed his achievements, such as producing the bank's first balance sheet for 22 years.


In the letter, he said he was resigning with "regret and disappointment" and had told staff to ensure a smooth handover.


The Mogadishu government had commissioned FTI Consulting and a U.S. law firm to investigate the U.N. monitoring report findings. FTI's chairman for the Europe, Middle East and Africa region is British peer and former minister Mark Malloch-Brown, once a deputy secretary general of the United Nations.


Somalia's recovery is being hampered by an ongoing Islamist insurgency, deep-seated clan loyalties that continue to govern the way politics and business is conducted and vested interests of powerful politicians.

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^ interesting news!


is this her linkedin profile?



September 19, 2013 - 10:05 SOMALIA




We are at the point where nobody knows how much paper money is currentlycirculating in the country. We have hard work ahead of us”, said Yussur A.F. Abrar, who has just completed
first three days as the new governor of the Central Bank of Somalia and who has clear ideas on the very substantial task ahead .


“With the fall of the government of Siad Barre in 1991, the financial institutions and the banking system also collapsed. From that moment on, Somalia has not had any central authority capable of overseeing and regulating the economy,” says the governor in an interview with MISNA, on the sidelines of President Hassan Sheikh Mohamoud’s visit in Rome.


“Currently, the Central Bank is performing basic tasks, but the Somali monetary and financial system needs to be rebuilt from scratch ,” says Abrar who happens to be the first woman to lead the Central Bank of Somalia; she has earned a Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree from the ‘University of Oklahoma’ and has held such posts as the deputy-chirman of Citigroup in New York and chair of Warsun International Communications Corp.


“After twenty years of civil war, the country’s economy is almost completely dollarized, in the sense that people use, for economic transactions, U.S. dollars at par to the local currency, the Somali Shilling, establishing a de facto two-track currency, a problem compounded by the widespread circulation of fake paper money, printed by private individuals over these 20 years, in the absence of an official Mint, have issued currency that has entered the commercial mainstream.”


According to Abrar , at least 23 years have passed since the last time the Mint printed shillings: “the coins have worn out and have been lost. Currently the 5, 10 and 20 cents coins are unavailable. While banknotes were gradually replaced by false ones. For the rest, there are Euros and Dollars circulating in abundance.”


The economist, who has taken over the role of governor from Abdusalam Omer (who ended up in the eye of the storm just a few months after being appointed in January 2013 over the slush fund scandal involving fraud of international aid funds) has also been entrusted to confront the ‘hot potato’ issue with Barclays . The group announced the closure of the accounts of companies involved in money transfers to Somalia, because they do not ensure the necessary standards of transparency.


“For us it is a matter of priority – explains Abrar – considering that our economy depends heavily on remittances , which constitute nearly 70 % of our GDP.” According to data available , Somalia receives some USD 500 million in remittances from the large Somali community residing in Great Britain. This is a vital resource for two million Somalis, who, thanks to these funds, sent by relatives, are able to buy food and medicines as well as send their children to school.


“This be problem will be at the top of our agenda – she explains – and she offers two types of solutions. A short-term one, to be negotiated with Barclays such that it grant us a little time to gain pace. The other concerns our economic system and would provide for the replacement of money transfer with commercial credit lines, or banks that is, which do not exist yet in today’s Somalia

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