The Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun, has urged the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to extend Bank Verification Number (BVN) to account holders in Microfinance Banks (MFBs), to facilitate the detection of bank accounts opened and operated for ghost workers by fraudulent syndicates.
The Minister said the introduction of BVN by the apex bank 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 individual’s intent on committing 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 BVN 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,” she said.
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.
“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.
Meanwhile, the Naira appreciated against the Dollars in all the major segments of the foreign exchange market on Monday.
The currency gained three points to exchange at N460 from N463 posted on Friday, while the Pound Sterling and the Euro closed at N550 and 476 respectively.
At the Bureau De Change (BDC) window, the Naira was sold at N399 to a dollar, while the Pound Sterling and the Euro traded at N547 and N482, respectively.
Trading on the floor of the interbank market saw the Naira closed at N306 to a dollar.
Traders at the market expressed delight in the interventions the CBN had made so far in boosting liquidity, adding that its sustenance would turn the economy around in the short to medium term.