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[Abuja]–The Minister of Finance, Mrs Kemi Adeosun, has urged the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to extend Bank Verification Number (BVN) requirement to account holders in Microfinance Banks (MFBs), stating that this would facilitate the detection of bank accounts which might have been opened and operated in such banks by ghost workers and other syndicates.

The ministry’s Director of Information, Mr Salisu Dambatta in a statement released in Abuja on Monday, said Adeosun had written to the CBN Governor, Mr Godwin Emefiele, to make her case.

The minister said that the introduction of BVN by the CBN had contributed immensely in improving the integrity of the Federal Government payroll on which more than 50,000 ghost workers were detected and removed.

She added  that this development is necessary for MFBs as operating bank accounts in Microfinance Banks without requirement for BVN had left a huge loophole which individuals with financial crimes intentions could use to hide and launder proceeds of crime successfully without being detected by law enforcement agencies.

The minister disclosed to the CBN governor that prior to the deadline for obtaining the BVN, there had been movement of a large number of salary accounts of federal employees from commercial banks to microfinance banks.

She said, “this is a suspicious activity and we have already commenced a review of such cases to identify and investigate any cases of fraud.

“We know that extending the requirement for BVN to Microfinance Banks may put a huge financial strain on the smaller Microfinance Banks; however, 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 cooperation 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 CBN had in February 2014 ordered all commercial banks to commence BVN registration and in September 2016, announced its intention to extend the exercise to MFBs in the country, but the exercise had not taken off.

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