There are more than 1,000
accounts, unclaimed bank checks and safe deposit boxes within the Cayman
Islands that must be claimed before the end of the year.
If they are not claimed, any funds
in those accounts will be transferred by the banks that hold them to the
coffers of government on 31 March, 2011.
The dormant bank accounts have not
been accessed for at least six years – some haven’t been accessed in more than
30 years – and a law approved by the Legislative Assembly in July has allowed the seizure and use of the money for public purposes if it is not claimed.
Several banks have submitted
lists of dormant accounts, unclaimed bank checks and deposit boxes to the Caymanian
Compass. The newspaper is required by the Dormant Accounts Law to advertise the
numbers and dates these accounts were opened in efforts to find the owners
prior to the end of the year.
The banks responding to the
government deadline included Cayman National Bank, Butterfield, the Royal Bank of Canada, First Caribbean
International Bank (Cayman) Ltd., RBS Coutts, and Scotiabank and Trust.
The final tally from the banks included 997
dormant accounts, 182 unclaimed checks and 69 safety deposit boxes. The
monetary amount held in each account or check was not disclosed by the banks, except for the ten dormant accounts held by RBS Coutts.
The names of each account-holder were also not disclosed.
A list of 73 additional dormant
accounts was published in the government gazette on 1 October by the State
Street Bank and Trust company. No other lists were known to have been
Officials with the Ministry of
Finance declined to comment of whether there were any outstanding dormant
accounts lists from other local banks.
The Dormant Accounts Bill set a 31
July deadline for the publication of the accounts in the government gazette as
well as in at least one local newspaper.
However, since the law’s passage
(on 13 July) came so close to the initial publication date, Acting Chief
Officer of Financial Services for the Ministry of Finance Dax Basdeo said some
extra time was given to help the banks collect all the information.
“Due to the tight time frame in
implementing the law with the dates that had been agreed with the banks and the
clarification of some issues, the banks were granted an extension until 30
September to publish their notifications,” Mr. Basdeo said.
It is believed that dormant bank
accounts in the Cayman Islands hold millions of dollars in cash. An exact
figure for the amounts contained has never been given.
Under the law, reports on the
dormant accounts would have to be submitted by the financial institution
holding them to the Ministry of Finance and the Cayman Islands Monetary
Authority. The company also has to maintain a register of dormant accounts.
If a mistake is made, and funds are
improperly claimed by the government, there is a process under the law for
former account-holders to reclaim those monies. However, that would have to be
done through government; in other words, banks would not be liable in the
Those claimants who do not agree
with the government’s decision regarding their accounts – if the money is not
paid back – can appeal to the Grand Court.