The Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun, has strongly solicited the
cooperation of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), in extending the
requirement for Bank Verification Number (BVN) to account holders in
Microfinance Banks (MFBs), to facilitate the detection of bank
accounts  which might have been opened and operated in such banks for
ghost workers by fraudulent syndicates.

The Minister,  who  sought  the  cooperation  of the CBN in that
regard in a correspondence addressed to the Governor of the Central
Bank of Nigeria, said that the introduction of the Bank Verification
Number by the CBN  has contributed immensely in improving the
integrity of the Federal
Government payroll  on which  more than 50, 000 ghost workers were
detected and removed.

Mrs. Adeosun stated that operating bank accounts in Microfinance Banks
without requirement for BVN has left a huge loophole which individuals
intent on financial crimes could use to hide and launder proceeds of
crime and successfully  escape detection by law enforcement agencies.

“Our ongoing efforts to verify the integrity of Federal Government
personnel costs and purge the system of fraud and error has made
extensive use of the Bank Verification Number as a means of
identifying recipients of multiple salaries, and salaries paid into
accounts  with names that differ to those held on our payroll records.
The success of this effort has to date yielded the removal of over
50,000 payroll entries,” the Minister emphasised.

Mrs. Adeosun referred  the CBN Governor to the discovery that, prior
to the deadline for obtaining the BVN, the movement of a large number
of salary accounts of Federal employees from commercial banks to
Microfinance Banks, was observed.

“This is a suspicious activity and we have already commenced a review
of such cases to identify and investigate any cases of fraud,” the
Minister explained.

While noting that extending the requirement for BVN to Microfinance
Banks may  put a huge financial strain  on the smaller Microfinance
Banks,  the Minister pointed out that  “some MFBs,  such as National
Police Force Microfinance (NPF), have over 27,000 salary accounts. Our
inability to
perform checks on such a large number of salary earners is a key risk.”

” I am therefore seeking your co-operation to enforce compliance with
BVN on any  MFB with over 200 active salary accounts or those above a
certain size. This will support the Federal Government’s efforts at
reducing leakages to create headroom for the capital projects that
will support the
growth of the economy,”  the Minister said in the correspondence.

It could be recalled that the CBN had in September in 2016 announced
its intention to extend the requirement for the extension of the Bank
Verification Number to MFBs in the country,  but the exercisehas yet
to take off.

The statement was signed by  Salisu Na’inna Dambatta Director
(Information ) in the Ministry