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FG on trail of ghost workers to MFBs, asks CBN to extend BVN to the sector

Having smoked out over 50,000 ghost workers following the introduction of Bank Verification Number (BVN) in the commercial banking sector, the Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun, has written the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), to extend BVN policy to account holders in Microfinance Banks (MFBs).

MFBs were not part of the BVN exercise introduced by the CBN since 2015.

The Minister came up with the idea considering her observations that it would facilitate the on-going federal government staff verification exercise, aimed to eliminate ghost workers in the federal payroll.

It would be recalled that some staff of the federal government Ministries Departments and Agencies (MDAs) opened their Salary Accounts in MFBs which operation does not require BVN and have effectively become safe havens for the ghost worker syndrome by fraudulent syndicates in government pay offices.

Facts rolled out by the Director of Information in the Federal Ministry of Finance, Mr. Salisu Na’Inna Dambatta, showed that the minister’s letter to the CBN noted that “the introduction of the BVN by the CBN has contributed immensely in improving the integrity of the Federal Government payroll on which more than 50, 000 ghost workers have been detected and removed”.

“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 have 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’s letter to the CBN read in parts.

Still in the letter sighted by Business Hilights, Adeosun took the mind of 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.

“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 informed the CBN.

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