Somalia: Shulman Rogers and the TFG president's bid to reclaim frozen assets

Published: April 30, 2010

Secret Documents linking the Transitional Federal Government of Somalia to a Planned Recovery of Frozen Financial Assets in Foreign Banks*
Translated by WardheerNews from an article by Khalid Mohamoud of the prominent Middle East Arabic print publication: ‘Sharaq-al-Awsad’ on April 2, 2010.
A collection of secret documents, obtained by Asharq Al-Awsat from the office of the president of the TFG, sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed, has revealed concerted efforts by the President to use an American Law Firm to reclaim frozen Somali assets held in Swiss Banks since the collapse of the rule of the deposed President of Somalia Mohamed Siad Barre in 1991.
In a letter signed on the 13th of December last year, Sheikh sharif appointed Ali Abdi Amalow, a former governor of the Central Bank of Somalia, as a financial consultant responsible for recovering millions of dollars believed to have been deposited by former government officials, who were in power at various stages 20 years ago, in foreign banks.

The Somali government suffers from a severe financial crisis that has forced it to suddenly close 10 embassies in the world. Some of the ambassadors affected by the closures claim that the interim government intends to resell the buildings occupied by the closed embassies in order to generate the foreign currency it needs to fund its day to day operation.
Among the documents obtained by Asharq Al Awsat is a copy of a letter signed by the American Law Firm, Shulman Rogers. The letter specifies the legal fees of the firm as $50,000 plus 3.5% of the proceeds it manages to recover from the foreign banks.
According to these documents, Sheikh Sharif has appointed Mr. Amalow to be his liaison with the law Firm. The documents also reveal that the Obama Administration may be aware of the agreement between the Law Firm and the Somali government.
This is the first time that undeclared efforts by the interim government to recover funds and assets languishing in foreign banks for such a long time are brought to light.
The frozen assets include the financial aid that the consecutive Somali Governments have received over the years and which also found its way to secret Swiss Accounts. Most Arab and Western countries have spent millions of dollars on supporting these governments in the hope that they would be able to re-establish peace and security in a country that has suffered since 1991 from a destructive civil war, political chaos and widespread insecurity
While high level officials in the government headed by Prime Minister Omar Abdi-Rashid have refrained from commenting on these documents, a Somali Minister informed Asharq Al Awsat that most cabinet members are not aware of the agreement signed between the government and the Law Firm. The Minister, who asked not to be named, said that this was the first time he heard about the agreement and the documents. He also asserted that the agreement and the documents have never been presented to the cabinet for discussion.
No immediate comments could be obtained from Sheikh Sharif, who arrived in the capital of Djibouti for talks with his counterpart Ismail Omar Gelle after arriving from Ethiopia where he met its Prime Minister Meles Zenawi two days ago.
Although members of the Sheikh Sharif delegation also refused to comment on the matter, reliable Somali sources have said that the efforts of the head of the interim government to recover the frozen Somali funds can be viewed as a gross violation of the interim constitution of the country and accuse the president of overstepping his power.
They also clarified that Sheikh Sharif is not a president for the whole of Somalia but temporarily heads the interim Somali authority. They also pointed out that Somaliland and Puntland have not been consulted on the matter, neither have they officially authorized Sheikh Sharif to recover the frozen assets as the recognized president of the country.
The sources also revealed that the Malaysian government has recently frozen the personal accounts of some high level government officials in Somalia. The Malaysian Government could not determine the legal sources of the estimated $14 million frozen funds and suspects the existence of widespread financial corruption within the Somali government. End
* Translated from the original Arabic text by WardheerNews

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