Half a million dollars have gone missing from the Central Bank of Somalia in what insiders term a clandestine ‘currency cleansing’ racket involving a senior cashier at the country’s reserves bank.
Today, Central Bank Governor Bashir Issa Ali said a senior cashier named Muhidin Mohamed Hassan who has since gone missing was the chief architect of the racket but said the operations of the bank have not been affected.
“The cashier delivered fake dollar notes, exchanged with the clean notes and went away with the legitimate notes for some time before finally disappearing. The amount missing is $530,000,” said Ali.
The Bank chief whose mission to transform the bank into the club of other central banks in the world could be put into question said the suspect carried out the theft for a month without being noticed.
He called on the National Intelligence Agency NISA to step in and help in the investigations even as it emerged several senior staffers at the bank are under investigations. Ali warned against any acts and abuse of public funds noting those found guilty will be dealt with by the law.
A source close to the ongoing probe into the scam intimated to Goobjoog News that senior bank officials have been interrogated by police while a senior cashier suspected of masterminding the scandal is on the run.
The details of the racket not only exposes a calculated swipe at a bank fledgling as it finds way to stand on its feet following many years of dysfunction but also the underhand dealings into fake currency printing in the country.
The main cashier at the bank was released days ago on a bond after interrogation by the Criminal Investigations Department, our source said.
The development comes at a time the International Monetary Fund said it was helping the Bank set up systems to improve central bank governance, central bank accounting and financial reporting, and the supervision of financial institutions.
“We’ve also been assisting them with budget preparation, formulating fiscal policy, and developing statistical systems,” the IMF said July last year.
These endevours, the IMF said were aimed at developing the necessary infrastructure to enable the country clear its debts to qualify for credit from the lender. At the end of 2014, the country’s external debt stood at US$5.3 billion (93 percent of GDP).
Central Bank Governor Bashir Issa Ali said in February the bank needs upwards of $20 million to print new bank notes in the denomination of 1,000, 2,000, 5,000, 10,000 and 20,000 shillings.
But the news of the bank raid raises concerns about the central bank’s ability to develop and implement a fiscal policy in the country given its susceptibility to such internal theft.
This past week the labour director Abdirisaak Mohamed Ali at the Ministry of Labour told Goobjoog News the government will in the coming months pay civil servants through private banks instead of the Central Bank as has been the case.
Former central bank governor Yussur Abrar resigned in 2013 after seven weeks in office citing gross corruption and underhand dealings in the bank to undermine the recovery of the country’s frozen assets.