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28 Nov, 2018 09:44

Russian bank’s fat-finger error almost gives poor African country six times its GDP

Russian bank’s fat-finger error almost gives poor African country six times its GDP

The Central African Republic (CAR) could have landed windfall on Tuesday after Russian state bank VTB reported it had almost lent the country $12 billion by mistake. The sum is over six times the country’s gross domestic product.

The loan was mentioned in a quarterly VTB financial report published by the Central Bank of Russia and seen by Reuters. However, VTB insists it was a technical error and that no such loan was provided to the African country.

“VTB bank has no exposure of this size to CAR. Most likely, this is a case of a technical mistake in the system when the countries were being coded,” the lender said in a statement sent to Reuters. It didn’t detail who was responsible for the mistake or how such a large figure could have been published without being spotted.

The sum of more than 800 billion rubles ($12 billion) is more than six times of Central African Republic’s annual economic output.

“I don’t have that information. But it doesn’t sound credible because $11 billion is beyond the debt capacity of CAR,” said government spokesman Ange Maxime Kazagui.

“We are members of the International Monetary Fund. When a member of the IMF wants to take on debt… it has to discuss that with the IMF,” he explained.

A former French colony, CAR is a nation of five million people with a gross domestic product of $1.95 billion, according to the World Bank. It remains one of the poorest countries in the world and is still marked by the humanitarian and security crisis of 2013.

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