By Rasheed Sobowale
Cellulant Nigeria Limited on Friday said the irregularities the company found on one of its platforms, Agrikore, was the reason behind the co-founder’s resignation and some staff being sacked.
Vanguard had reported Thursday that crisis in the Nigeria-based FinTech company, Cellulant Nigeria Limited, deepens as the co-founder, Bolaji Akinboro, resigned his position as the CEO and co-group CEO.
The company in its response to the inquiry Vanguard sent prior to the publication of the story headlined; “Crisis in Cellulant Nigeria Limited as co-founder resigns, over 35 staff sacked” said; “While conducting a compliance review on the Agrikore platform, we identified certain aspects of the compliance infrastructure and control framework of the platform that have not kept up with the platform’s rapid growth.
“An investigation revealed that 14 Agrikore employees had inappropriately received funds from Agrikore wallets. There is no indication that customer funds were compromised.
“As soon as we understood the issue, we moved quickly to temporarily shut down the Agrikore marketplace, inform our customers and regulators, and terminate the employees involved.
“The integrity of the Agrikore platform is our top priority. We have engaged an independent “Big 4” accounting firm to conduct a complete forensic review of marketplace wallets and a well-respected Nigerian law firm to lead a full, independent investigation of the platform.
“The Agrikore platform is a distinct product line of Cellulant’s broader diversified payments business. The payments business, which operates in multiple countries across Africa, and represents the substantial majority of Cellulant, remains unaffected by this decision and is fully operational”.
According to Cellulant, the co-founder, Bolaji Akinboro, as the executive in charge, took responsibility for the governance issues and resigned from all his management positions within the Cellulant group in late August.
Recall the paragraph 4 of our earlier published article on the company’s crisis had read: “Precisely 3 weeks ago after the resignation of the CEO, it was gathered that Cellulant issued official communication to its partners intimating them that one of its flagship platform, “Agrikore marketplace” which supports millions of farmers across Nigeria and guarantees the supply of raw commodities, the Agric value chain participants, would be shut down.”
The company however provided Vanguard a copy of the official communication. The memo reads;
Memo to Marketplace Partners
To: Marketplace Partners
Distribution Date: Friday, Sept 4, 2020
Subject: Key Updates on the Agrikore Platform
From: Dr. Sam Kiruthu, Chairman of Cellulant’s Board of Directors
As you know, with your support, Agrikore has experienced rapid growth over the past two and a half years. The compliance infrastructure and control framework have, unfortunately, not kept up with the rapid scaling of the platform resulting in significant issues, which we need to address. This has led us to the difficult decision to suspend Agrikore operations while we complete a comprehensive review of all aspects of Agrikore operations. The integrity of the platform is our top priority and we trust that we can count on your patience as we address these issues over the coming weeks.
The Agrikore platform is a subsidiary of Cellulant’s broader diversified payments business. The payments business, which operates in multiple countries across Africa and represents the substantial majority of Cellulant, remains unaffected by this decision. The payment business in Nigeria therefore remains operational while we conduct the review of Agrikore. Our other markets are also fully operational, and we remain committed to providing innovative solutions that support the business objectives of all our business partners and customers.
We will keep you updated as the work progresses, but our current estimate is that Agrikore will not be operational for 6 to 8 weeks.
Dr. Sam Kiruthu,
Chairman of Cellulant’s Board of Directors