Somali bank embroiled in scandal inks contract with lobby firm

The foreign lobbying contract with the Podesta Group says the firm will help the country strengthen its relationships with the American government and other groups, including reaching out to congressional lawmakers, the Executive Branch, the media and the “policy community.”

Asked if the representation included working on the corruption charges or if the contract is still valid, Podesta Group referred back to the language in the paperwork.

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In July, a United Nations monitoring group released a report that charged the Somali central bank “effectively functioned as a ‘slush fund’” for government officials. The country’s government denied the charges, and the central bank accused PriceWaterhouseCoopers of failing “to honor their fiduciary duties” in handling the government’s funds. 

Omer, a Somali-American who once held various senior roles in the Washington D.C. government, hired two American firms to fight the charges. Accounting investigators from FTI Consulting and Shulman, Rogers, Gandal, Pordy & Ecker released their findings on Aug. 30 and called the monitoring group’s report “baseless.” 

Somalia has one other firm advocating on its behalf, one of the law firms who helped with the rebuttals to the corruption charges, Shulman, Rogers, Gandal, Pordy & Ecker. Omer signed both contracts, including other foreign lobbying agreements that have since been terminated.

The United States officially recognized the Somali government earlier this year.

The one other firm still registered with the country, dating back to 2010, when the Somalia was still facing many economic sanctions. Many firms have formerly facilitated efforts to un-freeze those funds in international banks, including ones in the United States, according to the forms.

Although the Federal Republic of Somalia has worked to overcome corruption and instability following a lengthy civil war, there are still surges of violence in the area. Radical Islamic groups — such as al-Shabaab, which claimed responsibility for the attacks on a Kenyan mall last weekend — have control over rural areas of the country, according to the State Department. 


This article was updated on Sept. 27. The post originally misidentified Independent Diplomat as a firm representing Somalia. It does not.  Independent Diplomat instead represents the government of the Republic of Somaliland.