The Telegraph reports that the computer glitch at the Royal Bank of Scotland which left millions of customers unable to access their accounts could have been caused by just one junior technician in India, it was suggested last night.
The 'inexperienced operative' accidentally wiped information during a routine software upgrade, it has been claimed.
The member of staff, who was working on the programme for the Royal Bank of Scotland, NatWest and Ulster Bank, is believed to have been based in Hyderabad, India.
According to technology website The Register, at least some of the team responsible for the error were recruited in India following redundancies in the department in the UK.
The cost of the cock-up, including staff overtime and customer compensation, is already said to have hit $156m.
While the jury is still out on what really went on over at RBS (and UK regulator The Financial Services Authority has called for a full probe), we thought we'd take a quick look at a few 'fat-fingered' cock-ups:
A Salomon trader became famous in 1998 when he is said to have sold $1.37bn of French government bonds by simply leaning on his keyboard.
The New York Stock Exchange eventually fined Morgan Stanley $300,000 over a fat-fingered trader who, in September 2004, entered an order to buy $10.8bn of stocks - when the buy order was actually for $10.8m.
It was December 2005 when Mizuho Securities revealed that it was facing a $335m loss after an unnamed and relatively inexperienced 24 year-old female mistakenly entered a trade, and ignored an error message that flashed across her screen. The problem was compounded as a systems error over at the Toyko Stock Exchange meant that the firm wasn't able to cancel the erroneous order after it was first discovered.
In May 2001 someone over at Lehman Brothers pressed the wrong button (or the right button too many times!) and sold $429m in shares in certain large corporates - 100 times more than should have been sold. The error occurred just before the London market closed and is said to have temporarily wiped off $52bn from the FTSE. Lehman was subsequently fined $34,000 over the affair.
In December 2001 a trader over at UBS is said to have faced a loss of around $123m, when he attempted to sell 16 shares in Japanese advertising firm Dentsu at 600,000 yen each. Instead he actually sold 610,000 shares at 6 yen each! Fortunately for UBS (and the trader), the firm was able to unwind most of the transactions.
Finally, there was the Bear Stearns foul up. That's when, in October 2002, a 'clerical error' just before the Closing Bell saw the firm sell $4bn in a certain company's stock instead of $4m! Fortunately, all but $622m of the sell orders were canceled before execution.
image: © Lisamarie Babik