Ethiopian Bank Hunts Customers Over Millions Lost Due To Network Glitch

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Ethiopia’s largest commercial bank has given customers who withdrew more money than they had in their accounts until the end of the week to return it or face arrest and prosecution.

Local media reported that more than $40m (£31m) was withdrawn or transferred to other banks on Saturday during a system glitch lasting several hours at the state-owned Commercial Bank of Ethiopia (CBE).

In an interview with the BBC Newsday programme, CBE President Abe Sano on Wednesday said the bank has traced most of the transactions conducted during the glitch.

When asked whether CBE would report those who don’t return the money to the police, Mr Abe replied:

“Yeah, yeah, for sure. We are doing it already”.

He added that the bank will take legal action against those who will not have returned the funds “after this weekend”.

“There is no way that they can escape because they are digital [transactors] and they are our customers. We know them. They are traceable and they are legally accountable for what they did,” Mr Abe told Newsday.

Some of the customers who withdrew excess money have already returned it to the bank, Mr Abe said.

He however disputed the reports that customers took $40m, saying the amount taken was far smaller but will be accurately determined after an ongoing audit is completed later this week.

Mr Sano added that the audit is being done because some of the 10,000 customers who transacted during the glitch conducted legitimate transactions.