U.S denies ‘blocking’ Solomon Islands U.S dollar account

Freelance journalist Alfred Sasako. Picture: SUPPLIED

HONIARA, 23 OCTOBER 2019 (SOLOMON STAR) — The United States Government has refuted an Island Sun report that claimed it has “blocked” Solomon Islands’ US dollar account.

Freelance journalist Alfred Sasako penned the news piece, which the paper published on its front page, Monday.

But Chad Morris, Public Affairs Officer at the Port Moresby-based U.S Embassy said the story was “false and unfounded”.

“The story in the Island Sun regarding US dollar transactions is completely untrue,” Morris said.

“No U.S government policy exists and we are not making an attempt to ‘block’ access to USD,” he added.

“It appears Sasako has conflated the policies of Western Union, a private company, with the policies of the U.S government – had he contacted me, I could have told him that.

“The United States government continues, and will continue, to work with the government and people of Solomon Islands.

“The United States respects Solomon Islands’ sovereignty and its right to self-determination.

“Speculation on changes in U.S government policy with regard to the use of U.S dollars in Solomon Islands is unfounded,” Morris stated.

Sasako’s report claimed the decision by the U.S Government will effectively lock out the Solomon Islands Government from using USD account for all its international transactions.

Those familiar with international financial transactions said the claim Sasako made in his report was unheard of.

“There’s no such thing as that. Sasako must have cooked up that story.”

Meanwhile, the Central Bank of Solomon Islands (CBSI) says none of the claims is true.

In a statement, CBSI said the article is seriously misleading and could unnecessarily undermine the confidence of the general public in the financial system and potentially damage investors’ confidence in doing business here.

“CBSI never received any formal information regarding a shutdown of the U.S dollar account from the United States Government nor the Federal Reserve Bank of New York (FEDNY),” the statement said.

“CBSI assures the general public that none of the claims made in this particular article is true and believes the claims could be related to individual customer issues when making transactions that could be resolved by the service provider,” it added.

It said all licensed financial institutions and authorized foreign exchange dealers in Solomon Islands are operating as normal and have confirmed their business as usual.

“CBSI is calling on all news organizations, media reporters and publishing companies to be more responsible in their work and verify facts with regards to any information of this nature with the Central Bank.

“The media industry must do this before publishing for public consumption.

“This is critically important to avoid spreading of misinformation to the general public given and avoid the potential to harm the reputation of Solomon Islands and the economy,” it said.

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