EXPLAINER: 10 things to know about Bankers Warehouse, firm claiming $2.8mn seized by EFCC

EFCC officials sealing up a building under investigarion
EFCC officials sealing up a building under investigarion

Since last Thursday, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has been locked in a controversy with Nigeria’s cash-in-transit firm, Bankers Warehouse, over the confiscation of $2.8 million from officials of the firm.

On Sunday, PREMIUM TIMES reported how the company wrote the Central Bank of Nigeria protesting the confiscation by the EFCC of the combined cash of $2.8 million (over N1 billion at N360 a dollar).

The move followed EFCC’s announcement on Friday that two men were arrested at Akanu Ibiam International Airport with combined cash of $2.8 million. The agency added that the suspects mentioned their affiliation to Union Bank and Bankers Warehouse, a cash-in-transit contractor.

Since last week, the firm, which is not usually in the news, has dominated newspaper headlines. Some Nigerians who are not familiar with its operations are, however, curious about the firm and its handlers.

PREMIUM TIMES, therefore, highlights 10 things to know about the Bankers Warehouse and the lingering controversy:

1. Bankers Warehouse (BW) is an organisation that provides cash-in-transit, cash management, and cash processing services to banks and retail outlets across the country. Cash-in-transit (CIT) or cash/valuables-in-transit (CVIT), in simple terms, refers to the physical transfer of banknotes, coins, credit cards and items of value from one location to another.

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2. The firm has been involved in Cash-In-Transit (C-I-T) operations since 2007, according to details on its official website. In the course of its operations, it has equally amassed a fleet of about 200 Armoured Vehicles.

3. On the 19th of July 2011, having met the minimum capital requirements as dictated by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), the firm was issued licenses to carry out both Cash Management (CM) and Cash-In-Transit (C-I-T) operations in Nigeria, making it one of the very few companies currently licensed to handle CIT, cash counting and sorting operations in Nigeria. Another major CIT company, licensed at the same time with BW, is Integrated Cash Management System Limited.

4. The company is notably promoted by Victor Hammond and Rotimi Oyekanmi. While Mr Hammond serves as the Vice Chairman & Chief Executive Officer of the firm, Mr. Oyekanmi is a partner of Apis Partners LLP, which invested in the company in 2017. Mr Oyekanmi served as an Independent Non-Executive Director of Diamond Bank Plc until October 24, 2018, when he resigned. From 2012 to 2013, according to Bloomberg, Mr. Oyekanmi served as Group Head Ecobank Capital Nigeria at Renaissance Capital, Chief Executive Officer of Renaissance Group West Africa and Managing Director of Renaissance Partners. He is a qualified Chartered Accountant from Nigeria who holds a B.Sc in Economics from the University of Ibadan in 1981 and a Master degree in Operations Research from the London School of Economics and Political Science.

5. The company says it currently deploys its fleet of trucks across 28 states of the nation, carrying out C-I-T operations. “We are currently undergoing an aggressive drive to roll out of cash centres in different locations of the country over the next 5 years,” it says as part of its prospects.

6. In October last year, a private equity fund manager, Apis Partners, said that it would back the firm with funds to boost cash processing and cash-in-transit services. Speaking on the proposed investment, Matteo Stefanel, a co-founder at Apis, said the company would boost Bankers Warehouse’ operations because there was a significant opportunity to further leverage technology within cash logistics to increase convertibility of digital and physical cash.

7. In June, the firm tapped software solutions provider, Transtrack International, to deploy CashWebCommunity software to boost its operations. The firm said its goal was to enhance the quality of its services and increase the efficiency of its core business processes. The software, it said, will allow it to efficiently grow its business and strengthen its reach across Nigeria.

8. Although the company operates across Nigeria, it is headquartered in Lagos––UAC House, Odunlami Street, Lagos Island.

9. On Monday, the EFCC said it has filed a motion for interim forfeiture of the $2.8million it confiscated at a Federal High Court, Enugu State. The agency said it has also filed alongside the motion an affidavit of urgency for the matter to be heard on December 27, before a vacation Judge in Port Harcourt. The agency said as of Monday afternoon, the firm and the concerned bank, Union Bank, were yet to show up at any of its offices to claim the money.

10. Although the company has condemned the actions of the EFCC and called for the immediate release of its staff, it remains unclear what the outcome of the controversies would be. Curiously, the Central Bank of Nigeria has not officially spoken about the lingering crisis.

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