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Lawyer: BPI clients must return withdrawn funds mistakenly added to accounts

Account holders of the Bank of the Philippine Islands (BPI) who withdrew additional funds wrongly credited to their account due to the recent glitch will be liable to return such funds, lawyers said Wednesday.

"There was a mistake in the deposit and the depositors were able to withdraw money they're not entitled to in the first place. Depositors are considered mainly as trustees, and liable to return," Attorney Jowel T. Cruz, corporate lawyer, said in a phone interview.

This comes after an internal data processing error which caused transactions from April 27 to May 2 to be double-posted as of June 6.

While deposits made during the said dates were doubled, withdrawals were likewise processed twice, causing some accounts to register negative balances.

BPI has since appealed to the public not to withdraw the additional funds wrongly credited to their account due to the recent glitch. The bank has suspended electronic access to accounts on Wednesday as it worked to fix the glitch.

Cruz noted BPI could file complaints against account holders who have been able to withdraw funds wrongly credited to their accounts.

"It's a simple case of recovery of sum of money. It will be absurd to file criminal cases," he said.

This was echoed by lawyer Gabriela "Gaby" Roldan-Concepcion, who said BPI has the right to go after the funds.

"At the very least they can go after the funds that were wrongly credited in the principle that no one can be unjustly enriched at another's expense," she said in a text message.

For her part,  BPI Senior Vice President Catherine P. Santamaria said that if there were any account holders who were able to withdraw funds wrongly credited to their accounts, "they will be very few."

Santamaria also noted that as of now, BPI is not yet looking at the possibility of filing cases.

"BPI believes that our clients are honest and we believe that they are responsible, and we know that for those who have actually accidentally withdrawn that they will return their money at the bank," she said in a phone interview.

"At this point kasi, ang message na gusto namin lumabas is that we believe we have very honest clients. If they know that it is not their money, they will return it to the bank so we do not want to make any speculation at this point," she said.

Santamaria earlier said that for those who withdrew funds mistakenly added to their account, BPI would automatically deduct the same amount from the account in the next deposit. —JST, GMA News