Monday, February 2, 2015


A court in the Netherlands has held that the negative information, appearing on the Internet, about the international money service business Dahabshiil, alleging that it was financing terrorism, is untrue and defamatory, and has ordered it removed, together with the posting of an apology. The court found that the defamatory information was posted, on various websites, by one individual, Dahir Alasow, a Somali national, and that the information was picked up and repeated by other websites, without verification or fact checking.

Unfortunately, any verification of negative information, which was claimed to have occurred in Somalia, a country embroiled in a brutal and divisive civil war for many years, and menaced by a terrorist organization, is impossible. Witnesses are rarely found in a combat zone who are willing to confirm, or rebut, hearsay information; the transitory nature of a population seeking to survive in a time of war, and the perishable nature of documentary evidence in the absence of normal commerce and record-keeping, all contribute to an inability to prove or disprove statements of facts that may, or may not, have occurred in Somalia.

Therefore, one cannot conclude, assuming that the rules of evidence apply, that Dahabshiil is engaged in the financing of terrorism, or any of the other alleged acts attributed to it on the Internet. However, as a compliance officer, the absence of sufficient information increases the level of potential risk to the point where it may not be prudent to engage in any financial intercourse with such an entity. A court of competent jurisdiction has ruled that the allegations against Dahabshiil are untrue;  it is up to each compliance officer to apply the court decision, and the surrounding circumstances, in the assessment of risk.  

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