UPDATE: Clients who withdrew ‘glitch’
funds face ‘unjust enrichment’ raps

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SENATOR Francis Escudero said depositors of the Bank of Philippine Islands (BPI) who took advantage of the system’s glitch and withdrew money not legally theirs may face civil liability for “unjust enrichment.”

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Under Article 22 of the Civil Code, there is unjust enrichment when: a person is unjustly benefited, and such benefit is derived at the expense of or with damages to another.

“It appears that those whose deposit increased (due to the glitch) withdrew the amount. So, I asked (BPI) how the bank would treat this case. How will BSP (Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas) treat this because it is clear that you know if that is your money or not,” he said in a forum.

“It is clear that some depositors took advantage of such error which according to the Civil Code qualifies as ‘unjust enrichment.’ It means it does not belong to you.

Escudero added, “You must not gain from the bank’s system glitch. That is our concern right now.”

Asked whether the concerned depositors who took advantage of the system’s glitch may be charged with estafa, Escudero said, “It cannot qualify as estafa especially if they say that they just made an honest mistake.”

He added, “They could always say, ‘Oh, I thought that’s my money. I also got confused. If it’s just plain error on their part it will just be viewed as a civil liability under the Civil Code provision of unjust enrichment.”

Pressed whether it is still safe to maintain bank deposits, Escudero said, “Definitely. Our banks’ security features are better than those in other countries.”

“According to our bank executives, they monitor 60 to 100 (hacking) attempts a day. But the hackers cannot get through. They remained in the periphery or security firewall. So, I cannot say that their security features are not ready to block hackers,” the senator said.

BPI experienced a technical glitch this June that resulted in either huge deposits or debits in its clients’ accounts.

At a Senate hearing, BPI admitted that the glitch was due to “human error”.

READ: ‘BPI wasn’t hacked, it’s human error’

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