Olympian Mo Farah backs money transfer agency campaign
PUBLISHED: 11:52 12 August 2013 | UPDATED: 11:52 12 August 2013
Olympic gold medallist Mo Farah lent his support to a campaign to protect money transfer agencies, as Bethnal Green and Bow MP Rushanara Ali called on the government to help save them.
Distance runner Farah, who was crowned 10,000 metre world champion on Sunday, is one of 25,500 signatories to a petition handed into 10 Downing Street backing the campaign.
It follows Barclays Bank’s decision to terminate facilities for money transfer agencies, used by people to send money back to family in developing countries after they migrate to the UK.
Double Olympic gold winner Farah, who was born in Somalia, said agencies such as Dahabshiil, based in Cavell Street, Whitechapel, play a key role in the charity work he undertakes.
“It is so important that the government and the banks realise the incredibly serious threat this poses, and work with the remittance industry to find a solution,” he said.
“My charity, the Mo Farah Foundation, as well as many other international aid organisations, rely on companies like Dahabshiil and without them will no longer be able to get money to the people who so desperately need it.”
Barclays is the last major British bank to continue providing money transfer services to Somalia, with an estimated 40 per cent of the country’s population relying on them.
The bank’s decision to withdraw remittance accounts for money transfer agencies was a result of fears over their vulnerability to money laundering scams.
But Ms Ali, who is also shadow minister for international development, warned that moves to stop the agencies operating in the East End would have a major impact on the area’s large Somali and Bangladeshi populations.
She said: “The closure of these accounts will cause irreparable damage to the livelihoods of millions of people in the African and Indian subcontinents.
“Somalia, a country that has been blighted by years of conflict, is particularly at risk. People across the UK and many of my constituents are desperate to get money to their loved ones.
“Shutting this vital lifeline runs the risk of money being sent through dangerous and alternative methods that are not properly regulated.”
An estimated £3.2billion in aid was sent through agencies from the UK, with £109million sent from the UK to Somalia, according to Oxfam.
The petition calling for the government to “save remittance giving” was handed in to 10 Downing Street on Wednesday, August 7.