A bank in Germany has mistakenly transferred $34 billion to a customer in a routine operation, more than the entire bank is worth.
The Deutsche Bank which is considered to be the biggest bank in Germany on Friday admitted the error.
The unprecedented mistake happened on March 16 when Deutsche Bank carried out a transfer to an account at Deutsche Boerse’s Eurex clearinghouse, a spokesman told AFP.
The operation was meant to involve a far smaller sum, which the bank has not revealed, and highlights IT and control issues at the banking giant.
Accounting errors happen most days, but the sum involved in this case is highly unusual and even exceeds Deutsche’s market capitalisation of 24 billion euros.
The incident, which came shortly before John Cryan was ousted as chief executive, was quickly fixed and no harm was done, the institution said.
But it raises questions about the risk management and control processes within the bank, which Cryan was meant to have greatly improved since his arrival in 2016.
Given sole command of the lender in 2016 after the departure of co-CEO Juergen Fitschen, Cryan’s task was to restructure Deutsche and clean up the toxic legacy of its pre-financial crisis bid to compete with global investment banking giants.
But the bank has yet to return to profitability, while the share price has slumped more than 50 percent in the past two years — around 30 percent this year alone.
In a sign of the bank’s ongoing internal tussles, Deutsche on Wednesday announced the departure of its IT and infrastructure chief Kim Hammonds, who had reportedly called the bank the “most dysfunctional company” that she had worked for.
Erroneous transfer of funds from banks to their customers is not uncommon, but this seems to be a very grievous mistake.
Reports have surfaced on transfers of this nature in many African countries, but at the end of the day, the banks mostly suffer as it is either the customer has squandered the entire funds or will be nowhere to be found when they realise their mistake.