Thursday, February 25, 2021

Yemen government appoints EY to audit central bank following money laundering allegations

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Yemen’s government has appointed Ernst & Young to audit its central bank accounts, a statement from the prime minister’s office said on Sunday, in response to accusations by United Nations officials that it laundered Saudi money.

The audit will include internal supervision and control, as well as a review of Saudi deposits’ spending, the statement from the office of Maeen Abdulmalik added.

Last month, independent U.N. sanctions monitors accused the Saudi-backed government of money-laundering and corruption “that adversely affected access to adequate food supplies”.

The monitors said in a report that Saudi Arabia deposited $2 billion with Central Bank of Yemen in January 2018 under a development and reconstruction program. The money was intended to fund credit to buy commodities – such as rice, sugar, milk and flour – to strengthen food security and stabilize domestic prices.

The bank broke its foreign exchange rules, manipulated the foreign exchange market and “laundered a substantial part of the Saudi deposit in a sophisticated money-laundering scheme” that saw traders receive a $423 million windfall.

Yemen’s government statement said Abdulmalik ordered a thorough and urgent investigation on how the Saudi deposit was spent.

The U.N. monitors also accused the Iran-aligned Houthi group, which controls northern Yemen, of collecting at least $1.8 billion in state revenue in 2019 to help fund its war effort.

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