IT was a Christmas “present like no other for some in the UK. Santander’s UK bank on Thursday was seeking to recover £130 million ($175 million) it paid out on Christmas Day by mistake.
Alas, Santa Claus doesn’t have enough cash in his reserves to justify the roughly US$175 million in payments, but European bank Santander does, and it would like its money back, please.
It’s come to light in recent days that due to a “technical issue,” Santander UK sent out millions to about 75,000 people and companies on Dec. 25 that were not supposed to receive that money. First reported by the Times of London, the payments were sent to individuals who had already been paid by one of 2,000 businesses with accounts at Santander.
The bank essentially paid these people a second time, although the money for the extra payment came from its own coffers. That’s got to hurt, but it’s probably way less painful than the wrath of 2,000 customers if the situation have been reversed.
According to the New York Times, many of the 75,000 people who received the payments were customers of rival banks, including Barclays, HSBC, and Virgin Money. In a statement to the outlet, Santander UK apologized for the error and said it would work with its rivals to get the money back. It will also be using its own processes in the operation, but did not specify what those were.
The duplicated transactions made on Christmas morning came from the bank’s own reserves, meaning that none of the clients were left out of pocket, the bank said.
It added that it “will be working hard with many banks across the UK to recover the duplicated transactions over the coming days”.
The Times reported that the payments were made to accounts in numerous UK banks, which are now being asked by Santander to recover the money.
One bank told the newspaper that it would be reluctant to recover the funds if the account holder had already spent the unexpected windfall and this would tip them into overdraft.
Santander said that it also had “processes in place as a bank to seek recovery of those funds directly from recipients”.
The bank said the error was caused by a scheduling issue which “we quickly identified and rectified”.
The British high street wing of Santander has 14 million account holders and made a net profit of more than £1 billion in the first three quarters of 2021.