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IY Bank, the banking unit of retailer Ito-Yokado Co., said Monday that 4,000 accounts were erroneously double-billed for monthly fees.

Bank officials said the problem was probably caused by human error and not the result of computer trouble. “But we are now looking into the problem,” one official said.

IY Bank, jointly owned by Ito-Yokado and its convenience subsidiary, Seven-Eleven Japan Co., operates 24-hour ATMs installed in the stores of each chain.

When the balance of an account falls below 100,000 yen, a monthly fee of 105 yen is charged to those customers who wish to receive bank statements by mail and 315 yen for those who wish to receive statements via mail and the Internet.

According to the officials, the bank debited monthly fees for May on Friday and then again Saturday. They said they only became aware of the problem after customers complained, adding that the bank reimbursed the fees before the end of Saturday.

IY Bank currently has 72,000 individual deposits.

Softbank denies report

Internet investor Softbank Corp. denied a media report Monday that it plans to sell shares in Aozora Bank and will likely choose a buyer in June.

“It is true that we are promoting asset sales to improve finances, but we have not decided anything concrete,” the company said in a statement.

The business daily Nihon Keizai Shimbun reported in its Monday morning edition that a Japanese and a U.S. investment fund are competing to sign a deal with Softbank over the purchase of Aozora Bank shares.

Softbank holds a 48.87 percent stake in the bank, formerly Nippon Credit Bank.

NCB, under government control between December 1998 and August 2000, was acquired in September 2000 by a consortium led by Softbank, Orix Corp. and Tokio Marine & Fire Insurance Co.

Softbank purchased its stake for about 49 billion yen.

On Friday, Softbank said it incurred a consolidated net loss of 88.76 billion yen in fiscal 2001, a reversal from the 36.63 billion yen profit posted the previous year.

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