Business Hilights
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Hacking kingpins designing ransomware to hit N3.5tn trapped by BVN in banks


Indications have emerged revealing that Nigerian cyber criminals are now working day and night with their international hacking kingpins on a tailored ransomware attack that will hack into commercial banks and cause disruptions that will provide a window for them to transfer the over N3.5tn trapped since the expiration of Bank Verification Number (BVN).

Deadline for the BVN had ended since last year after about two years of the introduction by the Central bank of Nigeria (CBN).

Lead to the plot by cyber criminals might have emerged from the fact that since the end of the deadline to BVN, banks have been strangely quiet on the total amounts trapped in their respective banks and the CBN on its own; has not come up with a policy position on what should be done to all trapped deposits.

Business Hilights Correspondents working on this investigation for months always meet stiff opposition from top bank officials when the status or whereabouts of trapped accounts are mentioned before them, thus raising serious fears that some bank officials may be accomplices in the planned ransomware attack to bleed away the trillions of naira in a commando-styled mission as soon as possible.

Already, a top official of one of the old generation bank had confided in our Correspondent that should the CBN remove N3.5tn from the banks, many banks will run into illiquidity crisis capable of putting them in serious stress and eventual collapse.

This may be part of the reasons why there are reports that financial technology experts have blamed corruption for the trapped accounts that have not been linked to any BVN, and asked the CBN to urgently confiscate the funds or risk losing them to cyber attacks.

In the course of this investigation, Business Hilights was reliably informed that some Nigerian banks are good in diverting trapped deposits. It was also discovered that one of the new generation banks on Marina (name with held) was said to have built its magnificent head office some years back, with about N2bn being trapped deposits that could not be withdrawn due to the least withdrawal policy of the bank.

It would be recalled that in some banks, customers are made to understand that once an account is opened, there is always a particular amount that must be left in an account which cannot be withdrawn even if the account holder wishes to close it.

The fears of the emerging attack were recently raised by experts during a CxO roundtable facilitated by Ericsson and the International Data Corporation in Lagos this week in Lagos.

Though some pundits were quick to claim that some of the BVN abandoned funds were proceeds of corruption and needed to be cleared from the banking system, others say they may be accounts of people that could not understand how to process the BVN documentation after all.

It would be recalled that the Nigerian Inter-Bank Settlement System (NIBSS) Plc, saddled with the responsibility of coordinating the BVN registration exercise, in April revealed that it had registered 29 million account holders. This is after it noted in December 2016 that about 46 million bank accounts were still without the BVN.