AIB Pays [Euro]8m to ATM Users Who Forgot to Take Their Cash

Article excerpt

Byline: Claire Gorman

BAILED-OUT AIB has to pay more than [euro]8million to 70,000 customers who forgot to take their cash from ATMs.

The bank, which is 93 per cent owned by the State, wrongly debited the customers' accounts even though it still had the money.

The admission will further fuel public anger at AIB, which has come under fire for doling out lavish pay packages to executives while swallowing billions of euro in taxpayers' money.

Independent TD Finian McGrath said last night: 'Once again, our senior bankers are treating their customers with a complete lack of respect.' AIB's payouts will include compensatory interest because some of the mistakes were made as long ago as 2003 and the bank could not identify the customers before that. The problem was only halted last year when the Financial Regulator stepped in.

Mr McGrath said: 'I think it's an absolute disgrace that the money is only being repaid now. This money should have been paid back within a matter of months once it was verified.' The refunds were announced by the bank following a review of unsuccessful ATM cash withdrawals.

It is to pay [euro]5.1million to 41,000 of its own customers and [euro]3.2million to 30,000 customers from other banks. A contribution to charity will be made for all transactions made before 2003, even though the bank is dependent on emergency bailout cash.

The problem arose as a result of anti-fraud measures introduced in the mid-Nineties. Customers who walked away without taking their cash were not refunded unless they contacted the bank. The measure was designed to reduce the risk of someone claiming they had left their money in the machine and being fully refunded when they had in fact taken part of it.

Scammers had been conning the bank out of money by requesting large amounts of cash but taking only the top and bottom notes. The machine would retract the rest of the cash and wrongly record that none had been withdrawn.

A spokesman said AIB had assumed that anyone who left their money behind at an ATM would contact the bank to explain their mistake. He admitted the assumption had been wrong and substantial numbers of affected people had never got in touch.

AIB was ordered to carry out its ATM audit by the Financial Regulator last summer after Bank of Ireland announced a similar flaw in its system and reported that it was issuing [euro]3million in refunds to 43,000 customers who made withdrawals between 2005 and 2009 but never took their money. …