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CIMA Gallary

Bank bug sparks zero balance panic

Siliguri, May 22: Fixed deposit accounts of many customers at a UCO Bank branch today showed zero balance, with the authorities blaming the error on suspected software malfunction.

The zero-balance complaint was first reported yesterday afternoon. As news spread, around 100-150 account holders — mostly local people — today lined up at the bank on Burdwan Road to verify their deposits. Many of them realised that their accounts showed zero balance or lesser amount of cash than the initial deposit.

“I had deposited Rs 6 lakh under the fixed deposit scheme and have a certificate for it,” said Jiten Sarkar, a customer. “When I heard yesterday that many people had reported zero balance, I came to check. When the bank staff typed in my account number, it showed a fixed deposit of Rs 2 lakh. The remaining Rs 4 lakh was missing from my account. The staff could not say whether the money had been withdrawn by someone.”

As the news spread and account holders started streaming in, the authorities stopped regular work at the branch. All employees and officers, including the branch manager, were busy checking the fixed deposit accounts.

Bank sources said the “error” was reported only in the case of fixed deposit accounts. “But people with current and saving accounts wanted to verify their deposits. So, there was a huge crowd. All other regular work had to be stopped. Nearly 150 customers had come to verify their accounts,” a bank official said. He, however, could not say how many accounts showed the “error”.

“Not everybody who has a fixed deposit had anomaly in their accounts,” said Motilal Kar, who reported anomaly in his fixed deposit account. On October 19, 2011, Kar deposited Rs 1 lakh under the scheme in his wife’s name. On October 21, 2011, he deposited the same amount in the name of his daughter-in-law. “I have certificates for both the deposits. Today, both the accounts showed zero balance,” said Kar.

Sources in the bank said customers with fixed deposits usually did not check their balance regularly. “They enquire about it generally a few days before the maturity date of their deposits. Yesterday, one customer had come to enquire about his scheme which was expected to mature in a few days. He realised that his account showed zero balance. Soon the news spread,” the source said.

Bank officials today said the fixed deposits were safe as long as the customers had the certificates issued by the bank. “We suspect the zero balance is the result of a technical error. Our zonal office has been informed and software experts are looking into it,” said Madan Gopal Saha, the senior manager in charge of the bank. “The money of all those who have fixed deposits with us is safe. The customers have certificates issued by us, which authenticate their deposits.”