Swiss banks to give dormant accounts to rightful heirs

GENEVA, Switzerland – Over 2,600 unclaimed bank accounts and 80 safe deposit boxes that remain unclaimed have been made public by Switzerland today; the accounts contain CHF500 and up and some have been dormant since 1955 or before.

Bank vault revealed - Photo by Fiona Cullinan on Flickr
Bank vault revealed – Photo by Fiona Cullinan on Flickr

The publication of the accounts follow changes to Swiss banking law which went into effect this year.

“It is hardly credible for a bank to carry on managing the assets of a client who was born in 1876 and who they haven’t heard from for a century. The compliance departments in banks are being put under unbelievable pressure to clean up such cases.” (Swissinfo)

A great number of these accounts were opened by Swiss residents, many others by Canadians, French, Germans, Greeks, Iranians and at least one Armenian and one Argentinian national among others.

If no legitimate party claims the assets within one year of publication, the banks must transfer the assets to the Swiss government, said the Swiss Bankers Association.

The deadline for potential legitimate claimants is one year, or five if the assets in question have been dormant since at least 1954.

A new list will be published later in 2016.

Persons who believe they might have claim to assets in Switzerland can conduct a search for these at any time by contacting the Swiss Banking Ombudsman: Swiss Banking Ombudsman.

According to Swissinfo, since 1996 the ombudsman has been able to track down CHF52 million and 42 safe-deposit boxes.

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