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Ethiopians return $10mn disbursed in bank glitch

Over 9,000 clients have given back the entire amount they were able to withdraw during a system malfunction on March 16

The Commercial Bank of Ethiopia (CBE) has retrieved 622.9 million birr (over $10 million), accounting for 78% of the money it lost in a recent glitch that allowed customers to withdraw more funds than they had in their accounts, the institution’s president has announced.

Abe Sano told reporters on Tuesday that 238,293 “illegal” ATM transactions and digital transfers were made through 25,761 accounts when the East African nation’s largest bank experienced a system malfunction on March 16.

The bank has yet to determine what caused the system error. However, the National Bank of Ethiopia, which regulates the financial sector, has said that the “service disruption” at the CEB was caused by a routine system update and not a cyberattack.

An estimated 801.4 million birr (about $14 million) had been lost, according to the CBE’s head, who added that approximately 9,281 customers have fully returned what they took, while 5,160 reported partial refunds. The bank currently serves about 40 million customers and has been in operation for more than eight decades.

READ MORE: African country seeks to recover millions lost in banking glitch

Local media previously reported that nearly 2.4 billion birr ($42 million) had been withdrawn from the state-owned financial institution. CBE President Abe had also stated that half a million transactions were completed during the technical glitch, accusing university students of making the majority of the withdrawals.

Last week, Abe threatened to track down and prosecute clients who withdrew more than they had if they failed to return the money by the end of the week.

On Tuesday, he said the bank was taking measures to recover outstanding funds, including publishing the names of customers who have not refunded the amounts they cashed out. Abe warned that after Saturday, legal action would be taken against those clients.

March 27, 2024 at 05:38PM

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