Somalis threaten mass bank withdrawals

Hundreds of Somalis desperate to send money to loved ones in Africa agreed at a meeting Saturday to set a deadline for two banks to help with their cause, or face the possibility of losing business.

The Somali community sends millions of dollars to the horn of Africa each year through Somali-owned money wiring businesses in Minnesota. Typically those businesses need a US bank to facilitate the transactions -- but the last American bank to do so stopped three months ago. Bank officials said they couldn't be sure their systems weren't being used by terrorists under the new feeral restrictions.

The Somalis met at Abubakar Asiddiq Islamic Center to express their growing frustration with the situation.

"If we don't hear back from US Bank or Wells Fargo on May 11, we're hoping for more than 20,000 Somali community members -- not just Somali community members but anybody who's in the support of the Somali families -- to go to those banks and pull their money out," said organizer Hindia Ali. Supporters are being urged to find and open accounts with banks that will allow the transactions."

A spokeswoman for Wells Fargo said Sunday that bank leadership has met with the Somali community and is monitoring the situation. She said the bank wants to keep customers and will work with them individually and directly to address any concerns.

US Bank did not return calls for comment.

Before you keep reading ...

MPR News is made by Members. Gifts from individuals fuel the programs that you and your neighbors rely on. Donate today to power news, analysis, and community conversations for all.