Ethiopian bank seeks to recover millions after a technical glitch triggered massive withdrawals

NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) — Ethiopia’s biggest bank is reportedly attempting to recover more than $40 million after a technical glitch allowed customers to withdraw more than they had in their accounts.

Long lines formed at cash machines across Ethiopia after the problem was discovered at the Commercial Bank of Ethiopia, local media reported.

News of the glitch Saturday was spread on social media by university students, who withdrew much of the money, said the bank’s CEO, Abe Sano.

The bank has not said how much was withdrawn, but Abe told reporters that half a million transactions were made during the glitch. A local newspaper reported that 2.4 billion Ethiopian birr ($42 million) was lost.

The problem was caused by a “routine system update and inspection” rather than a cyberattack, Ethiopia’s central bank said in a statement.

Ethiopia’s banking system was shut down for several hours while the problem was fixed, with customers unable to withdraw cash.

Established in 1963, the Commercial Bank of Ethiopia is the country’s largest bank with 40 million customers.

Abe said the bank is working with the police to recoup the lost money. The bank will not press charges against students who took out cash that did not belong to them, Abe said.

A bank spokesperson could not be reached for comment.

AP Business

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