Ethiopia is one of the sixteen ‘high-risk third countries’ listed by the European Union (EU), who have strategic deficiencies in their national anti-money laundering and counter-financing of terrorism regimes.
Yinager Dessie, the president of the National Bank of Ethiopia agrees that there had been no legal restrictions on the amount of money to withdraw from banks. In a press release on Tuesday, Dessie mentioned two occasions whereby withdrawal of 115 million birrs had been stopped by the National Intelligence from two banks recently.
Money laundering has significantly increased following ethic and political disruptions in the past couple of years in Ethiopia. Multiple reports of the crime had been released from the intelligence agency. Hundreds of millions of birr captured in the borders of the country in the past year.
As a measure to curb this problem, Banks proposed “Birr Note replacement,” said Abe Sano, board chair of the Ethiopian Bankers Association, during the press release. If approved by the government a new note will be introduced to the century-long history of Ethiopian birr.
Also, the national bank has introduced a restriction that limits the amount of cash being withdrawn by individuals and businesses. According to the national bank president, a person can withdraw not more than 100,000 birr per day and 1 million birr per month. On the other hand, companies’ withdrawal had been limited to 300,000 birr a day and 2.5 million birr per month.
In addition, the banks have solved their cash liquidity issue, said Tsehay Shiferaw, board member of Bankers Association. “We [the banks] worked aggressively to collect as much cash as possible in the past months, so now the banks have sufficient amounts of cash at their hands,” he said.
The moves being taken by the financial sector recently have an intent to solve the issue of money laundering and crime financing, which have been raised by the international community as the weak side of the Ethiopian government.