Tue. May 28th, 2024

An Ethiopian bank has put up posters shaming customers it says have not returned money they gained during a technical glitch.

Notices bearing their names and photos could be seen outside branches of the Commercial Bank of Ethiopia (CBE) on Friday.

The bank says it has recovered almost three-quarters of the $14m (£12m) it lost, its head said last week.

He warned that those keeping money that is not theirs will be prosecuted.

Last month, an hours-long glitch allowed customers at the CBE, Ethiopia’s largest commercial bank, to withdraw or transfer more than they had in their accounts.

Most of the money was reportedly withdrawn by university students and 490,000 transactions were made before CBE realised there was a problem.

One student at Jimma University in western Ethiopia told the Amharic service: “I know someone who bought a smart phone and a laptop and has no money at hand to return.

“There are some who bought internet packages for a year and others who paid off their debts.”

Since the CBE demanded the money be returned and threatened those who don’t do so with arrest, thousands have voluntarily given back excess funds, the bank said.

Outside a CBE branch in the capital, Addis Ababa, a poster displaying the images of 28 people reads: “Those who did not return the money they inappropriately took from Commercial Bank of Ethiopia.”

The identities of those who have allegedly kept the money are also displayed on the bank’s website, accompanied by their bank account numbers.

The CBE uploaded the images to its site in four lists, which were compiled according to the amount of money the clients allegedly took.

The first list to be published was of clients said to have taken between $1,890 (£1,500) and $5,300 (£4,200).

On publishing these lists, the CBE said on its social media platforms that “there are individuals who have not used repeated opportunities to return the money they took illegally.”

The bank added that it was “forced” to release the individuals’ identities after giving several warnings and extending deadlines for returning the money.

In an interview with the Newsday programme following the glitch, CBE boss Abe Sano said the bank was already in the process of reporting customers to the police.

“There is no way that they can escape because they are digital [transactions] and they are our customers. We know them. They are traceable and they are legally accountable for what they did,” he said.

A CBE employee told the harder to find money transferred to other banks than to trace sums moved to another CBE account.

More than 38 million people hold accounts at the CBE, which was established 82 years ago.

The bank has never explained exactly what caused last month’s glitch, but said it was not the result of a cyber-attack and that customers should not be worried as their personal accounts were intact.

By Joy

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