Citibank accidentally wired $500m back to lenders in user-interface super-gaffe – and judge says it can't be undone

Press space or click mouse to continue ...wait, not yet, doh!


A judge has ruled that Citibank can't claw back more than $500m (£360m) it mistakenly paid out after outsourced staff and a senior manager made a nearly billion-dollar (£700m) user-interface blunder.

The error occurred on August 11 last year, when Citibank was supposed to wire $7.8m (£5.6m) in interest payments to lenders who are propping up troubled cosmetics giant Revlon. But a worker at outsourcing mega-org Wipro accidentally checked the wrong combination of on-screen boxes, leading to the repayment of not only the interest but also the $894m (£640m) principal from the bank's funds.

Citibank has a "six-eyes" policy on massive money transfers of this type. In the Revlon fiasco, a Wipro worker in India configured the transfer using software called Flexcube, his local manager approved it, and Vincent Fratta – a Citibank senior manager based in Delaware, USA – gave the final OK for the transfer of funds, all believing the settings were correct.

Below is a screenshot of the transfer set up by the first Wipro worker. He should have ticked not just the principal field but also the front and fund fields, and set their values to the necessary clearing account number. By leaving those two boxes unchecked and values empty – and wrongly assuming just putting the account number in the principal field was a correct move – the entire principal of the loan, which was set to mature in 2023, was handed back to 315 creditors.

UI

Incomplete ... The Flexcube interface for the infamous transfer. Click to enlarge. Source: US courts system

It wasn't until the next day that staff noticed the error, and sent out emails asking for the funds be returned – and hundreds of millions of dollars were. However, a group of 10 creditors refused to hand back their share the cash, amounting to more than $500m, leading Citibank to sue them in New York to recover the dosh.

This week, the US federal district court judge presiding over that lawsuit sided with the lenders, saying [PDF] they had reasonable grounds to think that the transfer was legitimate and that they had legal grounds to keep their money.

angry lego minifig man turns on anxious lego minifig man

Barclays Bank appeared to be using the Wayback Machine as a 'CDN' for some Javascript

READ MORE

"The non-returning lenders believed, and were justified in believing, that the payments were intentional," Judge Jesse Furman ruled.

"Indeed, to believe otherwise — to believe that Citibank, one of the most sophisticated financial institutions in the world, had made a mistake that had never happened before, to the tune of nearly $1bn — would have been borderline irrational."

Since the amount sent back repaid the loaned amounts to the cent and no more, the judge ruled Citibank had no right to reclaim the money.

"We are extremely pleased with Judge Furman's thoughtful, thorough and detailed decision," Benjamin Finestone, representing two lenders, Brigade and HPS Investment Partners, told CNN.

That said, the saga isn't over yet. The disputed funds are going nowhere, and are held under a temporary restraining order, to give Citibank a chance to challenge the ruling. "We strongly disagree with this decision and intend to appeal," the mega bank said in a statement. "We believe we are entitled to the funds and will continue to pursue a complete recovery of them." ®


Other stories you might like

  • New York City rips out last city-owned public payphones
    Y'know, those large cellphones fixed in place that you share with everyone and have to put coins in. Y'know, those metal disks representing...

    New York City this week ripped out its last municipally-owned payphones from Times Square to make room for Wi-Fi kiosks from city infrastructure project LinkNYC.

    "NYC's last free-standing payphones were removed today; they'll be replaced with a Link, boosting accessibility and connectivity across the city," LinkNYC said via Twitter.

    Manhattan Borough President Mark Levine said, "Truly the end of an era but also, hopefully, the start of a new one with more equity in technology access!"

    Continue reading
  • Cheers ransomware hits VMware ESXi systems
    Now we can say extortionware has jumped the shark

    Another ransomware strain is targeting VMware ESXi servers, which have been the focus of extortionists and other miscreants in recent months.

    ESXi, a bare-metal hypervisor used by a broad range of organizations throughout the world, has become the target of such ransomware families as LockBit, Hive, and RansomEXX. The ubiquitous use of the technology, and the size of some companies that use it has made it an efficient way for crooks to infect large numbers of virtualized systems and connected devices and equipment, according to researchers with Trend Micro.

    "ESXi is widely used in enterprise settings for server virtualization," Trend Micro noted in a write-up this week. "It is therefore a popular target for ransomware attacks … Compromising ESXi servers has been a scheme used by some notorious cybercriminal groups because it is a means to swiftly spread the ransomware to many devices."

    Continue reading
  • Twitter founder Dorsey beats hasty retweet from the board
    We'll see you around the Block

    Twitter has officially entered the post-Dorsey age: its founder and two-time CEO's board term expired Wednesday, marking the first time the social media company hasn't had him around in some capacity.

    Jack Dorsey announced his resignation as Twitter chief exec in November 2021, and passed the baton to Parag Agrawal while remaining on the board. Now that board term has ended, and Dorsey has stepped down as expected. Agrawal has taken Dorsey's board seat; Salesforce co-CEO Bret Taylor has assumed the role of Twitter's board chair. 

    In his resignation announcement, Dorsey – who co-founded and is CEO of Block (formerly Square) – said having founders leading the companies they created can be severely limiting for an organization and can serve as a single point of failure. "I believe it's critical a company can stand on its own, free of its founder's influence or direction," Dorsey said. He didn't respond to a request for further comment today. 

    Continue reading
  • Snowflake stock drops as some top customers cut usage
    You might say its valuation is melting away

    IPO darling Snowflake's share price took a beating in an already bearish market for tech stocks after filing weaker than expected financial guidance amid a slowdown in orders from some of its largest customers.

    For its first quarter of fiscal 2023, ended April 30, Snowflake's revenue grew 85 percent year-on-year to $422.4 million. The company made an operating loss of $188.8 million, albeit down from $205.6 million a year ago.

    Although surpassing revenue expectations, the cloud-based data warehousing business saw its valuation tumble 16 percent in extended trading on Wednesday. Its stock price dived from $133 apiece to $117 in after-hours trading, and today is cruising back at $127. That stumble arrived amid a general tech stock sell-off some observers said was overdue.

    Continue reading
  • Amazon investors nuke proposed ethics overhaul and say yes to $212m CEO pay
    Workplace safety, labor organizing, sustainability and, um, wage 'fairness' all struck down in vote

    Amazon CEO Andy Jassy's first shareholder meeting was a rousing success for Amazon leadership and Jassy's bank account. But for activist investors intent on making Amazon more open and transparent, it was nothing short of a disaster.

    While actual voting results haven't been released yet, Amazon general counsel David Zapolsky told Reuters that stock owners voted down fifteen shareholder resolutions addressing topics including workplace safety, labor organizing, sustainability, and pay fairness. Amazon's board recommended voting no on all of the proposals.

    Jassy and the board scored additional victories in the form of shareholder approval for board appointments, executive compensation and a 20-for-1 stock split. Jassy's executive compensation package, which is tied to Amazon stock price and mostly delivered as stock awards over a multi-year period, was $212 million in 2021. 

    Continue reading
  • Confirmed: Broadcom, VMware agree to $61b merger
    Unless anyone out there can make a better offer. Oh, Elon?

    Broadcom has confirmed it intends to acquire VMware in a deal that looks set to be worth $61 billion, if it goes ahead: the agreement provides for a “go-shop” provision under which the virtualization giant may solicit alternative offers.

    Rumors of the proposed merger emerged earlier this week, amid much speculation, but neither of the companies was prepared to comment on the deal before today, when it was disclosed that the boards of directors of both organizations have unanimously approved the agreement.

    Michael Dell and Silver Lake investors, which own just over half of the outstanding shares in VMware between both, have apparently signed support agreements to vote in favor of the transaction, so long as the VMware board continues to recommend the proposed transaction with chip designer Broadcom.

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2022