A new anti-money laundering and terror financing bill in Somalia should help to ensure that money sent from abroad will reach relatives without falling into the hands of extremist groups, two Minnesota congressmen said Tuesday.
U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison, a Minneapolis Democrat, released a letter congratulating Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud on the new law. He said it was an important step toward improving Somalia's financial system.
The letter also was signed by Congressman Tom Emmer, a Republican who represents St. Cloud, and three other members of Congress, all Democrats.
"This law ensures that money for food, education, and small business start-ups sent from relatives abroad can reach families in Somalia without falling into the hands of extremist groups like Al-Shabaab and Daesh," Rep. Ellison said. Daesh is another term for ISIS.
Minnesota lawmakers have long sought a plan to allow money transfers to continue after banks in the U.S. stopped handling them.
Somalis in the United States may only send money if a U.S. bank is willing to facilitate the transfers. Any bank that does risks multimillion dollar fines if it runs afoul of federal antiterrorism financing laws — and complying with the laws is increasingly difficult.
According to Oxfam International, remittances account for as much as 45 percent of the country's economic activity.