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Commercial Bank of Ethiopia says much of the money illegally withdrawn during the system glitch recovered

Commercial Bank of Ethiopia _ money recovered
Abe Sano (Photo : PD)


Toronto – Commercial Bank of Ethiopia (CBE)  on Tuesday announced that it has recovered much of the 800 million Ethiopian birr lost during what was described as a “system glitch”  that happened on March 16. 

Abe Sano, president of the bank, had a press briefing on Tuesday about it.  He said “The bank has recovered three-fourth of the 800 million birr meaning 620 million birr.”  

It took weeks for the bank to indirectly disclose the amount of money that was lost as clients withdrawn or transferred the money they did not have in their accounts. Many local media outlets reported at the time the amount of lost money to be between 5 billion and 10 billion birr.  The bank had officially announced that there were more than 490,000 transactions in a matter of few hours when the problem was created. Later, the bank gave a different account. In what it said “unhealthy” transaction 238,293 transactions were made and 15,000 clients were involved in it.  Some of the bank branches were made to stop the operation until the problem was resolved. 

The figures the bank disclosed do not seem to tally. On the one hand, it says three-fourths of the lost amount is collected. On the other hand, it says 567 clients have not yet returned 9.8 million birr. 

Last week, the Bank issued a warning for clients who exploited the situation to withdraw or transfer the money they do not have to return it to their nearest CBE branch or through the online payment system until last Saturday. 

The Bank has started to release the names of clients who have not yet returned the money they were asked to. 

Conflicting information as to what caused the problem 

Cyber attack is ruled out as the cause of the “system glitch.”  The bank has been saying the problem was created during the process of “improving the online banking system.” 

However, there is conflicting information from government authorities – including from the president of the bank. In his first press briefing, Abe Sano said the problem was caused due to a “missing code” during the system update intended to “improve online banking.” 

Last Friday, another theory emerged as to what went wrong. Ethiopia’s Information Network Security Administration (INSA) said “analysis of the source code” indicated that “there was a disordered code used during the system update.” 


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  1. The latest report indicated that the final amount deemed uncollectible is estimated to be around 9.8 million in the local currency which is about $178,000 in US dollars. The largest unrecoverable withdrawal by a single person was reported to be about 325,000 in the local currency which is around $5,700 in US dollars. What is most shameful part of this repulsive story is almost all of those who committed the crime are university students located in various regions. These are part of a generation destined to be the future leaders of the country. It shows how that country is producing a generation of monsters devoid of any social values and morality it was well known for. So, what is new, right? After decades of persistent demonic sermons by bigoted commies, this is the typical outcome. We hear more and more news of innocent civilians being kidnapped for ransom and murdered in the most barbaric ways at homes and even at places of worship. We hear stories of military leaders bragging about how they rained bombs over their fellow citizens in Oromia and Amhara regions using the latest war tools like drones. Does that gem of the colored deserve all this? It is just disheartening. Congratulate yourself bigots!

  2. With this almost national disaster averted, it is now the time for the bank and the legislators to look in to why and how it happened. I personally believe that management staff has failed the bank. It should be overhauled from top to the level where the lethal error occurred. The bank was not even aware when it was being devoured alive. It was reported that one overqualified policeman noticed a long line behind an ATM machine in Dire Dawa and called the bank. That is what my merchant relatives in the capital told this afternoon. The chairman or the president or whatever they call the position must gracefully relegate his leadership. That is unless he was appointed at the position to meet the ‘quota’ employment system. Folks, this is not just another small time neighborhood bank but with an asset in upward of 30 billion in US dollars. Management has failed and disqualified itself. The bank needs new sharp gray stuff!!!


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