Back office staff at Australia's Westpac are working overtime to reverse millions of dollars worth of transactions after a 'processing error' led some payments to fail and duplicated tens of thousands of other payments in and out of customer accounts.
The bank is working with other financial institutions and public sector organisations to track down the duplicate payments, which led to some people receiving twice their monthly salary, while others were left severely out of pocket as direct debits from accounts were processed twice-over, or salaries failed to arrive.
In a statement, the bank blames a 'processing error' on failures to process a small number of payments, and 'human error' for the duplication of other transactions.
The bank says any fees and charges incurred by customers as a result of this error will be reversed, and that it is working closely with other banks to sanitise their client's accounts.
Westpac is currently working on plans to merge with its smaller rival St George and has been reviewing back office practices with a view to moving some jobs offshore.
The Australian finance sector union says that pressure on staff caused by the review may have contributed to the foul-up, and has called on Westpac to call in the proposals and re-invest in its Concord administration business onshore.