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BUSINESS

Oops! Deutsche Bank makes €28 billion transfer in error

Germany's biggest lender Deutsche Bank on Friday admitted to a massive erroneous transfer of €28 billion in a routine operation, more than the entire bank is worth.

Oops! Deutsche Bank makes €28 billion transfer in error
Deutsche Bank's headquarters in Frankfurt. Photo: DPA

The unprecedented mistake happened on March 16th when Deutsche Bank carried out a transfer to an account at Deutsche Boerse's Eurex clearing house, 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.

The incident, which came shortly before John Cryan was ousted as chief executive, was quickly fixed and no harm was done, the institution said.

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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 Deutsche 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.

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BANKING

German online bank N26 shutters US service

German online bank N26 said Thursday it was closing its operation in the United States next year, as regulators in Europe place the "fintech" start-up under increased scrutiny.

The N26 logo on a bank card.
The N26 logo on a bank card. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Christophe Gateau

N26’s 500,000 customers in the US would be able to use their services until January 11th, 2022, the bank said in a statement, after which it would cease to operate in a market it first entered in 2019.

Instead the Berlin-based operation would “sharpen its focus on its European business”, where it already operates in 24 countries and is exploring expansion into more eastern European markets.

N26 said it would also look to launch new “investment products in the coming year” to sit along side its current account service.

Founded in 2013, N26 offers free, online-only banking services to around seven million clients and is one of Germany’s most high-profile financial technology or “fintech” firms.

In October, the bank raised $900 million from private investors, and announced a plan to hire a further 1,000 employees to reinforce its product development, technology and cybersecurity teams.

READ ALSO: German online bank N26 to create 1,000 jobs

At home, N26 has been in the crosshairs of the German banking watchdog BaFin since 2018 after a local news media investigation found that it was possible to open account with forged IDs.

Earlier in the month, the regulator said it was upping its oversight operations at N26, appointing a special representative to monitor the bank’s progress towards solving issues in “risk management with regard to IT and outsourcing” identified by BaFin.

The regulator also limited the number of new customers N26 could take on to 50,000 a month until the shortcomings were addressed.

N26 was already being monitored by BaFin over failures in the start-up’s anti-money laundering system.

BaFin issued N26 with a 4.25-million-euro ($4.8-million) penalty earlier this year in connection with around 50 “suspicious transactions” the bank failed to report promptly enough.

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