Commercial Bank of Ethiopia Glitch Allows Customers to Withdraw Millions

Ethiopia’s largest commercial bank, the Commercial Bank of Ethiopia (CBE), hit by a system glitch that allowed customers to withdraw millions of dollars beyond their account balances. The incident which occurred on Saturday, March 16, 2024, led to a frenzy of withdrawals, by university students, amounting to over $40 million, according to local media reports.

Commercial Bank of Ethiopia Glitch Allows Customers to Withdraw Millions

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On Saturday, March 16, 2024, customers of the state-owned Commercial Bank of Ethiopia (CBE) discovered a startling anomaly, they could withdraw more cash than what was available in their accounts.

This revelation triggered a frenzy of withdrawals and transfers, primarily driven by university students who seized the opportunity to access additional funds.

Over $40 million was withdrawn or transferred from Commercial Bank of Ethiopia, causing a financial strain on the institution. The glitch lasted for several hours, allowing ample time for the transactions to occur.

Commercial Bank of Ethiopia serves over 38 million account holders. Reports suggest that more than 490,000 unauthorized transactions took place during the glitch.

Bank president Abe Sano disclosed that the majority of the withdrawn funds originated from state-owned Commercial Bank of Ethiopia accounts, with students being the primary beneficiaries.

Ethiopia’s central bank attributed the incident to a “glitch” during routine maintenance activities, addressing that it was not the result of a cyber-attack.

Efforts to recover the misappropriated funds have been initiated, with Commercial Bank of Ethiopia urging students and other customers to return any unlawfully withdrawn money voluntarily.

Despite assurances from Commercial Bank of Ethiopia officials that returning the funds will not result in criminal charges. Reports show that the glitch persisted for several hours before transactions were finally frozen by CBE.

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The bank’s president, Abe Sano, disclosed to journalists that a considerable portion of the withdrawn funds originated from state-owned CBE accounts, primarily accessed by students.

The news of the glitch spread rapidly across university campuses through various communication channels, prompting long queues at campus ATMs as students sought to exploit the malfunction.

Eyewitnesses reported scenes as students continued to withdraw funds unabated, even after police intervention.

Despite efforts to contain the situation, it remains unclear how successful the bank has been in reclaiming the misappropriated funds.

Mr. Sano clarified that the system glitch was not the result of a cyber-attack but rather an internal issue encountered during routine maintenance activities aimed at enhancing the bank’s operations. He reassured customers that their accounts remained secure and urged against panic.

Ethiopia’s central bank, responsible for overseeing the country’s financial sector, issued a statement attributing the glitch to a technical malfunction during maintenance checks.

The statement did not address the specific amount withdrawn by customers of the incident on the financial system.

Several universities have urged students to return any misappropriated funds voluntarily, addressing the importance of ethical conduct and accountability.

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