CLUMSY typing cost a Japanese bank at least £128 million and staff their Christmas bonuses yesterday, after a trader mistakenly sold 600,000 more shares than he should have.
The trader at Mizuho Securities, who has not been named, fell foul of what is known in financial circles as “fat finger syndrome” where a dealer types incorrect details into his computer. He wanted to sell one share in a new telecoms company called J Com, for 600,000 yen (about £3,000).
Unfortunately, the order went through as a sale of 600,000 shares at 1 yen each.
That error alone would have been bad enough, but the consequences were much worse because 600,000 shares represents more than 40 times the total number issued by the company, and the vast discrepancy effectively created a technical shortage of shares, worth about £1.6 billion.
Despite Mizuho’s attempts to rectify the mistake, some estimates put the possible financial damage to the firm at about 60 billion yen — a figure that may be big enough to destabilise the securities arm of what is one of the four largest financial groups in the world.