The University of Sydney misplaced an extraordinary half a million dollars after transferring the funds to the savings account of an unregistered USU society.
The United States Studies Society (USSS) received the funds on the 4th of August, bringing their total balance to $500,013.31. The University contacted the USSS 3 days after transferring the money. According to the society’s executive, the University asked for the money to be returned immediately due to an urgent need to pay staff wages. The funds were returned on the 8th of August.
The University of Sydney told Honi that the funds were actually intended for the United States Studies Centre (USSC) and that they had “mistakenly applied the Society’s bank account details to the ‘United States Studies Centre’ account”.
“The situation was unusual in that an invoice from the Society looked very similar and could be easily mistaken for an invoice from the Centre,” said a University spokesperson.
The day-to-day operations of the University remained unaffected as the $500,000 amounted to a very small proportion of the $2 billion in payments the University makes annually. The USSC was similarly unaffected, not requiring the funds until the 12th of August.
The University said this sort of error had never happened before and that changes would be instituted to prevent it from happening again.
“We are not aware of any other instances where we have paid the incorrect vendor. However, in circumstances like this, even where it appears to be an isolated and rare occurrence, we always implement a review of the incident, and in this case we will be adding some additional controls to avoid any future occurrence.”
Rumours suggest the University may start using SMS verification for bank transfers like everyone else in the country.