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23 Dec 2018

Bankers Warehouse condemns EFCC’s action on $2.8m confiscation, laments harassment of employees

The Bankers Warehouse on Friday wrote the Central Bank of Nigeria protesting the confiscation by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) of a combined cash of $2.8 million (over N1 billion at N360 a dollar).

The organisation, which provides cash-in-transit, cash management, and cash processing services to banks and retail outlets, also lamented the arrest of its employees by the anti-graft officials.

In a letter dated December 21 and addressed to the CBN deputy governor, the Bankers Warehouse head of operations, Lawrence Ijebor, said the EFCC insisted on detaining their employees despite the means of identification provided.

He said, “Despite the information provided, the EFCC insisted on detaining our employees, taking possession of our goods and threatening to confiscate the currency, without making themselves available to our senior managers or other agencies familiar with our movements.

“We seek your intervention as our regulator, to address this issue of constant harassment of our staff, by security agencies.”

Trouble started on Friday when the EFCC announced in a statement said that two men were arrested at Akanu Ibiam International Airport with a combined cash of $2.8 million.

The agency said the suspects mentioned their affiliation to Union Bank and Bankers Warehouse, a cash-in-transit contractor.

The anti-graft office said it was investigating the recovery as money laundering.

But in a swift reaction Friday, Union Bank strongly denied wrongdoing, saying the practice was standard in the banking industry and its contractors were licenced by the Central Bank of Nigeria.

In a string of tweets directed at the EFCC, the bank criticised the anti-graft office for being too hasty at disclosing the development to the public, “prior to the completion” of investigation.

Yet Tony Orilade, a spokesperson for the EFCC, claimed that the anti-graft agency made concerted efforts to get Union Bank to corroborate accounts of the suspects, but was frustrated for nearly 24 hours.

“We made serious efforts to get Union Bank officials in Enugu and other parts of the country to confirm details of the money, but there was no one ready to cooperate with us,” Mr Orilade told PREMIUM TIMES. “We then decided to count the money before the suspects and took it to the CBN in Enugu where it was deposited and records taken.”

The Bankers’ Warehouse in its statement said the action of the EFCC constitutes a risk that could threaten the lives of their staff and the cargo they convey. It added that the CBN had previously called a meeting on similar developments in the past, calling on the apex bank to intervene.

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