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Barclays Can’t Halt Somali Firm’s Account, U.K. Court Says

Nov. 5 (Bloomberg) -- Barclays Plc must continue providing banking services to a cash-transfer company that serves Somalia while money laundering concerns are reviewed, a U.K. court said.

Dahabshiil Holdings Ltd. won an application forcing the London-based lender to work with it until the dispute can be resolved at trial.

Barclays said in May it would end its relationship with Dubai-based Dahabshiil, citing the lack of “strong anti-laundering governance structures.” Abdirashid Duale, Dahabshiil’s chief executive officer, said outside court last month the issue was a matter of life and death for African families who rely on money being sent back from the U.K.

The bank’s reasons for wanting to end its links to the company “need to be fully examined,” Judge Launcelot Henderson said.

Barclays said the risk of financial crime is an important regulatory concern and that it would appeal the ruling.

“Barclays made a legitimate decision to exit these businesses based upon the well-known risks of money laundering and terrorist financing in the money-service business sector,” the bank said in an e-mailed statement. “The risk of financial crime is an important regulatory concern and we take our responsibilities in relation to this very seriously.”

Dahabshiil said in a statement that the ruling was a “victory for the millions of Somalis and other Africans, many of whose livelihoods depend on our services.”

Half of all Somalis get some of their income from money sent back to the country from overseas, the nation’s prime minister, Abdi Farah Shirdon, said in a statement responding to the ruling.

“Governments, the money remittance sector and all key stakeholders must now work together to find a permanent, legitimate and transparent solution that keeps open this vital lifeline,” he said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Kit Chellel in London at cchellel@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Anthony Aarons at aaarons@bloomberg.net

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