Liberia sees a second chance

By: Kanika Saigal |

September 12, 2019 For many international investors, Liberia isn’t relevant. It offers little in terms of natural resource, while global banks find doing business there too risky and its young and poor population offers little commercial opportunity. Can China help turn this around?

It was 2012. Steve Cashin, chief executive of financial services investment company Pan African Capital Group and director of International Bank Liberia Limited (IBLL), sat in a stuffy conference room in Washington DC with a few of his peers from other banks based in Pakistan and the Caribbean Islands. Opposite him were a number of representatives from the US government, regulatory bodies and banks.

They were brought together by the Center for Global Development (CGD) and the Milken Institute to give Cashin and his associates the opportunity to make a plea for the US banks to re-open some of their correspondent relationships. One by one, banks had severed ties with smaller financial institutions in risky countries such as Liberia following a swathe of anti-money laundering (AML) and know-your-customer (KYC) related fines.

This was Cashin’s chance to fight his corner. Steve-Cashin-160×186.jpg Steve Cashin, Pan African Capital Group “There was a guy from the Department of Justice there,” remembers Cashin. “He was shaking. I’m not sure if it was out of anger or pure frustration that he was forced to be there, sitting opposite us, listening to our side of the story when he thought we were not worth his time. Liberia just wasn’t important to them.

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