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Citibank's pesky little bug

    Edited: Antony Currie

Many people assume that the millennium bug was beaten thanks to banks' thorough preparations. A large caucus among non-IT-geeks think it was a mythical monster in the first place, concocted by techies to give easily frightened bank bosses nightmares.

In reality, it turns out that the Y2K gremlin scored at least one bullseye. The "Citibanking" service to institutional clients worldwide includes a daily electronic update on clients' holdings. The computer programme deletes historical data that is over 45 days old, so when it skipped to 2099 on New Year's Eve, all those 20th-century records must have seemed rather passŽ. It erased the lot.

Most institutions who lost their records have kept schtum. It would embarrass them vis-ˆ-vis their end-investors. This has allowed the incident to go unnoticed...almost. One Citibank client - let us call him Investor X - is sufficiently unimpressed to blow the whistle.

A technical glitch can happen to anyone. The question is how you respond to it. And was Citibank's reaction satisfactory? "Not in our case," says Investor X. He heard nothing from the bank at all, but plenty from other grumbling investors.

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