The alleged resignation letter of Somalia’s former Central Bank governor Yussur Abrar was published recently on the site Saadaal News.
Thought its authenticity has not been confirmed, passages of the text match excerpts previously cited in the initial Financial Times report.
Abrar’s abrupt resignation in late October 2013 was fueled by her claims that she was pressured illegally to violate her “fiduciary responsibility” and approve deals with law firm Shulman, Rogers, Gandal, Pordy & Ecker that could “open the door” to further corruption.
Other questionably sourced and sensationalist pieces alleged that Abrar was threatened by key people to improperly transfer millions of dollars in assets recovered by Shulman Rogers. Implicated individuals included:
Businessman Muse Haji Mohamed Ganjab, who has been linked with Shulman Rogers
Abdiaziz Amalow, who is reportedly related to former Central Bank governor Ali Abdi Amalow and also linked with Shulman Rogers
President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud’s Chief of Staff Kamaal Daahir Gutaale
Since there has been no official government clarification or independent investigation, it has been hard to verify elements of various accounts.
Shulman Rogers was initially contracted by former President Sheikh Sharif Ahmed’s transitional government in 2010 to recover frozen assets. The total amount the firm has recovered–as well as where and how the funds have been transferred–does not appear to have been publicly released.
After Shulman Rogers received $870,230 in September 2013 for three years’ worth of legal fees and expenses ostensibly related to asset recovery, the firm linked up with Podesta Group to carry out public relations work on behalf of Somalia’s Central Bank, according to public documents.
This may have been related to the lengthy report drafted by Shulman Rogers and FTI Consulting in response to the United Nations Somalia and Eritrea Monitoring Group’s graft allegations.
Shulman Rogers’s role in both asset recovery and defending the Somali government of graft charges presents a serious conflict of interest regarding the firm’s involvement and credibility in the country.
As a result of this and the apparent unknown fate of assets it may have already recovered, it is reasonable to ask to what degree the company may have been involved directly or indirectly in any potential illicit activity.
In a now outdated 2010 contract between Shulman Rogers and Somalia, the firm stated that “in the event a conflict [of interest] should arise, we reserve the right…to limit the scope of our legal services in order to avoid such conflict…”
However, it is clear that Shulman Rogers–and companies like FTI Consulting (who are advisors to Soma Oil and Gas)–continue to operate with insufficient transparency and are behind some of the more controversial chain of events that have come up in recent months.
In this regard, Abrar’s criticism of the firm may represent an undeniable point as other details are sorted out.
Weak institutions and ineffective parliamentary oversight are easy scapegoats for these debacles.
But the fact that the Somali government has yet to issue an official statement after two weeks on then resignation of its monetary chief should raise serious questions about the alleged role and knowledge of key individuals.
As if the Central Bank governor’s resignation and her chilling accusations were not enough, the Somali government is now grappling with another high-level crisis as President Hassan has reportedly asked Prime Minister Abdi Farah Shirdon to resign.
What is needed most at this moment in time is leadership, communication, and transparency. But all that there seems to be is finger-pointing, silence, and obfuscation.
Abrar’s Alleged Letter
The text of Abrar’s alleged resignation letter reads in full:
HE Hassan Sheikh Mohamud
President of Federal Republic of Somalia
It is with great sadness that I submit to you this letter to serve as my official resignation of the post of Governor of the Central Bank of Somalia.
Your excellency, when I accepted this role, I did so with the interests of the Somali people in mind. Having worked at senior levels at some of the largest financial institutions in the world, I was
looking forward to the opportunity to lend my skill sets to rebuild the Central Bank and improve the lives of our people, as the Central Bank is key to the development of the economy. I was encouraged and
inspired by the Somalis whom I met everywhere I went, so full of hope
that the nation’s recovery was near, and that they could soon partake in the rebuilding process. Undoubtedly, economic recovery is critical to this recovery from both a fiscal and security perspective.
However, it has become clear to me that my ability to act in the interests of the Somali people has been undermined and will continue to be undermined by various parties within the administration. From
the moment I was appointed, I have continuously been asked to sanction
deals and transactions that would contradict my personal values and
violate my fiduciary responsibility to the Somali people as head of the nation’s monetary authority. To use one example, as you are aware based on our multiple conversations on this matter, I vehemently
refused to sanction the contract with the law firm Schulman & Rogers, regarding recovery of the Somali financial institutions assets frozen since the fall of Siad Barre’s regime.
Your Excellent I have read both the Agreement and Power of Attorney which your office instructed theformer governor to sign with the law firm. I don’t believe that these documents serve the interest of the Somali nation and I believe that they put the frozen assets at risk and open the door to corruption. My suggestion to let me share these documents with a Central Bank appointed legal counsel for a second opinion fell on deaf ears.
The message that I have received from multiple parties is that I have to
be flexible, that I don’t understand the Somali way, that I cannot go against your wishes, and that my own personal security would be at risk as a result. I am the least concerned about the security threat,
but I am truly disappointed that I have not received your support and leadership on this matter so that I could objectively perform my duties.
Your Excellency, I am sure you are aware, Part II, Section 3, Article 6 of the Central Bank of Somalia Act states: “Except as otherwise specified in this Act, the Bank, and the members of the Board or the
staff, shall not take instructions from any other person or entity, including Government entities. The autonomy of the Bank shall be respected at all times and no person or entity shall seek to influence
the members of the decision-making bodies or the staff of the Bank in the performance of their functions or to interfere in the activities of the Bank”. Unfortunately the Central Bank has not been allowed to
function free of interference, and as such cannot operate as a credible institution.
Your Excellency, the Central Bank is in poor condition with payroll processing the only semi-functioning unit. It will take dedicated
effort, expertise, and commitment from multilateral agencies to build it into a fully functioning Central Bank. It requires a governance structure starting with the appointment of a Board of Directors. Most
of all for the country’s economic recovery to start, financial system to advance, and Hawalas to remain open and continue to serve the Somali people, the Central Bank has to take its rightful place as licensor, supervisor, and monitor of the country’s financial system.
In the seven weeks since my appointment as Governor, I have already made significant progress. I met with global financial leaders, including the World Bank, IMF, AfDB, Barclays and the US Government, to raise the profile of the remittance crisis facing Somalia and help
drive a solution. I worked closely with the World Bank and the IMF to develop a detailed plan to rebuild the Central Bank?s functions on a large scale. The IMF has already started training our staff in
Nairobi. I reached out to the money transfer companies who are now looking to the Central Bank for leadership and guidance. The staff at the Central Bank is more motivated now than they been since before the civil war. I can only imagine what could have been achieved provided I
had your support to perform my duties objectively.
Your excellency, while I am disappointed by this lack of support, I am more disappointed for the Somali people who would have benefited the most from these and future contributions.
Yussur A.F. Abrar