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Sudan says Saudi decision to suspend banking transactions not politically motivated

March 3, 2014 (KHARTOUM) – The Sudanese government has downplayed a decision by banks in Saudi Arabia to stop any dealings with their counterparts in Sudan saying it is not politically motivated.

Central Bank of Sudan (CBoS) ( Photo Reuters)

The head of the parliamentary economic subcommittee Salem al-Safi told reporters after a meeting with officials from the Ministry of Finance and the Central Bank on Monday that they were assured that the recent measures by Riyadh are normal but that the media blew it out of proportion.

He underscored the banks’ ability to address the issue in the next few days.

The Sudanese lawmaker also denied any adverse impact on the country’s exports or imports or on remittances made by expatriate workers whom he said use Forex bureaus and not banks.

Al-Safi also said that Saudi Arabia did not take these measures to "strangle" Sudan economically.

Last week the government acknowledged reports that a number of Saudi and European banks took a decision to stop dealing with Sudanese banks and attributed it to pressure made by the United States.

Sudanese officials initially refused to comment on the move which was widely circulated within the business community in Khartoum.

There was no comment from Saudi Arabian Monetary Agency (SAMA) and it is not clear if the latter issued the directive or if it was decision by individual banks.

The Sudanese finance minister, Badr Al-Deen Mahmoud said last week that banking interactions particularly with the Arab countries are crucial because it links Khartoum to the international banking system.

US sanctions dating back to the Clinton administration in 1997 bars any financial dealings with Sudan or institutions owned by Khartoum which complicates Sudan’s access to international financial markets and US dollars.

But the Central Bank last Thursday issued a statement saying that the move was driven by routine banking procedures undertaken by the financial institutions.

(ST)