Ethiopia Largest Bank Hit by Glitch, Customers Withdraw Millions

Ethiopia Largest Bank Hit by Glitch, Customers Withdraw Millions

Over the weekend, the Commercial Bank of Ethiopia (CBE) experienced a significant systems failure that allowed customers to withdraw and transfer funds exceeding their account balances. Despite initial concerns, a cyber-attack has been excluded as the cause of the incident.

The glitch, which persisted for several hours, led to customers exploiting the situation to withdraw and transfer over £31 million. The anomaly was first noticed on Saturday morning when customers found they could extract more money than available in their CBE accounts. Reports suggest that upwards of $40 million (£31m) was siphoned off or moved to other financial institutions.

The bank’s response involved a multi-hour effort to halt transactions. CBE President Abe Sano, addressing the media, indicated that a substantial portion of the unauthorized withdrawals were conducted by students. The news of the glitch propagated swiftly through universities, primarily via messaging apps and phone calls, leading to long queues at campus ATMs.

In the wake of the incident, at least three universities have issued advisories urging students to return any misappropriated funds, assuring that no criminal charges will be pursued against those who comply.

Ethiopia’s central bank acknowledged the glitch, attributing it to maintenance and inspection activities, but their statement primarily addressed the service disruption following CBE’s transaction freeze, omitting details about the withdrawn funds.

Mr. Sano refrained from disclosing the exact amount lost but emphasized that the figure is relatively minor compared to the bank’s overall assets. He reassured customers that their personal accounts remain secure and unaffected by the glitch.

CBE has established a task force dedicated to recovering the lost funds. Some students have already been detained on university campuses as part of these efforts. However, the effectiveness of the bank’s recovery strategy remains uncertain.

Share This