Somalia to recover frozen assets overseas

Saturday January 05 2013

Somalia's Foreign Affairs Minister Fowsiyo Yusuf Haji Aadan. Photo/FILE

The Somalia government is working on a plan to recover assets running into millions of dollars frozen by foreign governments and organisations since the collapse of the central government in 1991.

Foreign Affairs Minister Fowsiyo Yusuf Haji Aadan began her tour of several countries this week to document Somalia’s financial assets in foreign banks, as well as its commercial properties, embassies, aircraft and ships.

In Kenya, ambassador Mohammed Ali Nur said that no assets belonging to the Somali government had been frozen apart from those that had been plundered.

“One of our properties here in Nairobi that had been taken by another party has since reverted to us,” he said.

According to the online newspaper Sabahi, Ms Aadan is set to visit the United Arab Emirates, Italy and the United Kingdom.

“We will conduct an exceptional review of all of Somalia’s global assets in all of the continents and we will consult with Somali and foreign financial and legal advisers,” Ms Aadan told Sabahi.


She said the Somalia government would demand the return of money held by the Swiss authorities as well as ships and airplanes in Germany, Italy and Yemen.

The Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority is yet to reveal the breadth of the former Somali central government’s bank accounts or dealings between Swiss banks and prominent Somali figures whose assets were frozen.

Amid the chaos following the collapse of Somalia’s central government, some foreign governments froze official Somali government bank accounts to prevent their unauthorised use.

However, many of the government’s physical assets abroad have since been mismanaged or are unaccounted for.

According to a United Nations report leaked in July, mismanagement of public assets continued under the rule of the Transitional Federal Government, where 70 per cent of revenue was lost through corruption, theft or waste. Much of this money is suspected to have been sent abroad.

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Finance minister Mohamud Hassan Suleiman called on the international community to work with Somalia to help recover all of its assets.

“We will not hesitate to retrieve money that was illegally deposited in foreign accounts, including bank accounts of previous governments, and (stolen from) financial aid over the past two decades,” Mr Suleiman told Sabahi.

“We will organise a programme through which we will appeal to our Somali partners, including former finance officials, to tracking those funds.”
In November, the Somali cabinet sent an official request to the UN Security Council for help with reclaiming assets from abroad.