More than 1,000 accounts to be claimed

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
recovery process.

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.


  1. So what if its more than six years that the dormant accounts have had no activity? THAT’S NORMAL BANKING BUSINESS !

    Which socialist among us now determines that a six year old account belongs to the government?

    Six years is "YESTERDAY" in the banking business!

    What happened to the democratic right of a customer to deposit his funds in order to collect interest?


    It would destroy totally our banking and tourism industry.
    We must put our foot down and make sure this does not happen.

    Editor’s note: This comment had to be edited for legal reasons.

  2. To continue government operations and to maintain the size of government, sadly the CIG have chosen to legally take monies from people’s accounts. This is not ethical! I believe all governmental departments should be able to generate their own funds to keep themselves afloat. Not to be against the monetary system by taking monies from people! It is time they become finacially responsible for their own wasteful spending. It is time they disallow UK’s FCO and other financial entities from pressuring to rush balancing our budget. Balancing the budget can not be fixed overnight by taking people’s monies. Our Government has to stand up and be responsible! That’s all I got to say!

  3. Its pretty simple folks. If a bank has made every effort to confirm the balances of the accounts by sending out regular notices, it has done due diligence and now has the obligation to turn over the money to the government. Procedures are in place to allow people to get their money back if they can show rightful ownership. Its common practice everywhere else.

  4. I just find out that my godmother leave me 1 million CI dollars in a Barclays Bank account when she died in 1997 in her will. My mother just told me :)She was checking yesterday newspaper and she saw the account# there. We went to the bank today and everything is OK. Was just an overlook from there side..The bank ‘tried to contact me many times’ they stated.

  5. 6 years for a bank account? Is it a joke? Something like a 100 years might make sense, but 6 years? Do not cut a branch you are sitting on. Or do not kill a chicken laying gold eggs.

  6. What a disgrace for the Cayman government to institute such a shakedown. Dormant accounts? There are some of us who live in precarious countries who put aside money in case we have to flee for our lives and need a nestegg to get started again. Six years is nothing, I have not made a deposit or withdrawal from my time savings accounts but now it seems I will have to be penpals with the bank thereby letting government officials know of mail going back and forth. In Switzerland there is no time limit and accounts can stay dormant for hundreds of years. With interest rates nearly at zero I can easily consider moving my money to Switzerland and not even worry about tax withholding which even though not done in the Cayman Islands since I’m hardly earning anything these days. The government should repeal this confiscatory law if you want your banking system to continue as it is today. Government capitulated to the Internal Revenue Service of the USA– what next? Get your affairs financially in order and keep your hands out of my pocketbook.

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