Saturday May 19, 2018
By: Jeff Baillon
ST. PAUL, Minn. (KMSP) - Leaders in
Minnesota's Somali business community are responding to questions about
suitcases of cash leaving on flights out of Minneapolis-St. Paul
The community members gathered Friday
morning to call out Minnesota politicians for bills that could impact
how Somali immigrants send money to their families abroad.
This all stems from Fox 9’s report
of massive fraud in the state's daycare subsidy program for low-income
families. Multiple government sources believe as much as a $100 million
of taxpayer money is being ripped off. They have tracked some of the
money going overseas.
Sources told Fox 9 suitcases stuffed with as much as a $1 million in
cash are leaving on flights from MSP on a regular basis. It's all legal,
as long as the courier fills out government forms. Immigrant
communities use these types of money transfers in order to help support
relatives in countries with no official banking system. What got the attention of state and federal investigators was the
increasing volume of cash leaving MSP: $14 million in 2015, $84 million
in 2016, and more than $100 million last year. They believe some of that
increase is coming from rampant fraud in the state's childcare
assistance program. Ten, mostly Somali-owned daycares, are currently
under investigation. But some community leaders say there's another
reason for the increase in carry-on cash.
"The fact is the Muslim
community in Minnesota is growing in wealth, they're growing in size,
and that's an easy way to explain that story," said Jaylani Hussein, the
executive director of CAIR-Minnesota.
According to multiple
government sources, some of the money transfers are going to parts of
the Middle East where terrorist groups are active. These sources believe
as the money passes through, some is being skimmed off by those
organizations. The owner of a Minnesota money transfer business
acknowledges this method of sending funds can be risky.
want them,” said Abdiaziz Sugule of the Somali American Money Services
Association. “It’s dangerous for us, it’s risky, but we don't have other
solution to do this."
After 9/11, rules changed making it harder
to wire money to places like Somalia. Local Somali leaders say they want
to work with lawmakers to find a better solution than carry-on cash,
but right now, it’s one of their only options.