The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has officially alerted Central Bank (CBN) Governor Godwin Emefiele to last Thursday’s interception of $2.8million at the Akanu Ibiam International Airport in Enugu.
The anti-graft agency has already commenced investigation into the source and purpose of the huge cash-in-transit, with a private firm, Bankers Warehouse Limited, and Union Bank kicking over the EFCC’s seizure of the money.
The company and Union Bank said separately yesterday that the men arrested along with the funds were on a lawful assignment.
An EFCC source told The Nation yesterday in Abuja that the organization had alerted the CBN Governor on “the seizure of the $2.8million. We expect the apex bank to cooperate with us on this case.
“But investigation is ongoing to ascertain what informed the movement of such a huge amount, the beneficiaries and the final destination of the cash.
“Going by the extant laws, the suspects ought not to be in possession of this amount of money. They are in custody undergoing interrogation and we will inform the public accordingly.”
Responding to a question, the source added: “Our detectives will interact with some officials of Union Bank and those in charge of the conveying company.
“By financial regulations, the huge cash ought to be transferred not hauled. It is strange that CIT operators now haul foreign currency in huge volume. This is why we suspect a case of money laundering.”
But Bankers Warehouse insisted, in a letter to the CBN, that its staff were on a legal mission.
The letter signed by BW Head of Operations, Dr. Lawrence Ijebor, said: “I want to convey to you that once again, we are facing a challenge with one of the security agencies (this time the EFCC), which detained our couriers yesterday evening while attempting to board an Arik Air flight from Enugu to Lagos, conveying currency on behalf of Union Bank. They were transporting US dollar.
“When questioned, they presented their identity cards, identifying themselves as Bankers Warehouse employees on official Cash-In-Transit (CIT) movement and also provided the letter of authority issued by the bank converting that movement.
“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.
“Our attention has been drawn to an article in a newspaper and EFCC website where our staff have been paraded as suspected money launderers, exposing the identity of our client and portraying our company in not just a negative but criminal light.
“We seek your intervention as our regulator to address this issue of constant harassment of our staff by security agencies which constitutes a risk that could threaten the lives and safety of our employee and the cargo they are tasked with conveying.
“Also, kindly recall that the CBN had previously called a meeting of stakeholders regarding this issue in the past. It may be prudent to engage the stakeholders once again to provide clarity on the legitimacy, coverage and mode of operations of registered CIT operators.”
The management of Union Bank also deplored the action of the EFCC.
The bank, in tweets on its official Twitter page yesterday said: “Movement of cash across states is routine for all banks. Bankers Warehouse is licensed by CBN to provide Cash-in-Transit services,” the bank said.
“We are surprised by the release of a news bulletin prior to the completion of @officialefcc investigation. This is a legitimate and routine operation consistent with banking.”
The EFCC, responding to claims by the company and Union Bank yesterday said officials of Bankers Warehouse and Union Bank refused to honour invitations by it.
Acting spokesman for the EFCC, Mr. Tony Orilade, said investigations were still on and the outcome of the probe would determine the agency’s next line of action.
He added, “On the Union Bank saga, the way forward is that investigation is ongoing.
“On the detention of their staff and threat to confiscate the money, this is neither here nor there. The two men arrested with the money were detained because they have to offer relevant information.
“The bank refused to honour invitation from the time of the arrest until we had to go out with the story. That was when they suddenly realised they need to honour the invitation. Be that as it may, a thorough investigation has to be carried out as to the source and legitimacy of the money because we are not unaware that some financial institutions are being used to launder money.” – The Nation
– Dec. 23, 2018 @ 6:37 GMT |