Ethiopian bank posts photos of customers yet to return millions gained during technical glitch

Francis Akhalbey April 08, 2024
A technical glitch enabled several CBE customers to withdraw and transfer excess funds -- Photo Credit:

The Commercial Bank of Ethiopia (CBE) has publicly displayed photos of customers yet to return excess funds that they withdrew or transferred during a technical glitch. According to BBC, the photos of the said customers had been displayed outside the bank’s branches as of Friday.

The bank displaying the photos comes after several customers managed to withdraw or transfer $14 million during the technical glitch. The bank’s head, however, said that almost three-quarters of that amount has since been returned. He also said customers yet to return the monies will face prosecution.

During the glitch that occurred in March, CBE customers managed to over-withdraw or do transactions even when they had less money in their accounts. Customers made nearly 500,000 transactions before the bank became aware of the technical glitch. Most of the customers who made those transactions were university students.

“I know someone who bought a smart phone and a laptop and has no money at hand to return,” a student in the Horn of Africa nation told BBC‘s Amharic service. “There are some who bought internet packages for a year and others who paid off their debts.”

After CBE became aware of the glitch, it threatened that customers who overdrew or transferred more money outside their account limit would be arrested. Thousands of customers have since returned excess funds, per the bank.

The names as well as the account numbers of the customers yet to return the excess funds were displayed alongside their photos. Their identities and account numbers are also shown on the bank’s website.

“Those who did not return the money they inappropriately took from Commercial Bank of Ethiopia,” a poster showing the photos of the customers yet to return the excess funds reads. That poster was spotted outside a CBE branch in the capital Addis Ababa.

The CBE on social media also said that “there are individuals who have not used repeated opportunities to return the money they took illegally.” The bank said it was left with no resort but to publicly name its customers yet to return the excess funds after issuing several warnings and even pushing back the deadline. 

CBE president Abe Sano also told BBC that the bank will notify police about the customers yet to return the excess funds. “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,” Sano said.

CBE is the largest commercial bank in Ethiopia. Established 83 years ago, the bank has over 83 million customers. And though the bank has not provided details on the cause of the technical glitch, it said it did not stem from a cyber-attack. The bank also assured customers that their accounts were safe. 

Last Edited by:Mildred Europa Taylor Updated: April 8, 2024


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