Santander bank pays out £130m in Christmas Day blunder

Scheduling issue leads to about 75,000 people and companies being paid a second time in error

The high street lender Santander accidentally paid out £130m to thousands of individuals and businesses in a Christmas Day blunder.

About 75,000 people and companies who received one-off or regular payments from 2,000 businesses with accounts at the bank were inadvertently paid a second time on 25 December.

The issue has led to the bank having to try to claw back the cash. Payments included wages or money from suppliers. Santander said the problem was as a result of a scheduling issue.

“The transactions comprised a range of regular and one-off payments. The recipients and purpose of payment will have varied among clients but could have included wages or supplier payments,” said a statement from the bank.

Initial reports on the mistake from the Times said account holders at Barclays, HSBC, NatWest, Co-operative Bank and Virgin Money are among those affected.

The banks can retrieve the cash but some are said to be worried that it may already have been spent and they do not want to risk pushing customers into overdrafts. One bank said it would be reluctant to take the money back if it meant the account holder was tipped into overdraft as a result, according to the Times.

Pay UK, which runs the main payment systems in the UK, is holding talks on how to reverse the payments and some cash has already been recovered.

Under the “bank error recovery” process, Santander is talking with rivals and approaching some customers directly.

A spokesperson said: “We’re sorry that due to a technical issue some payments from our corporate clients were incorrectly duplicated on the recipients’ accounts.

“None of our clients were at any point left out of pocket as a result and we will be working hard with many banks across the UK to recover the duplicated transactions over the coming days.”

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