Central bank holding Rwf500 million in unclaimed funds

Central bank holding Rwf500 millions in unclaimed funds as a result of bank accounts which have became dormant. File.

Close to Rwf500 million is laying unclaimed at the National Bank of Rwanda (BNR) as a result of bank accounts which have become dormant.

A bank account is deemed dormant following inactivity over long periods of time.

Ordinarily, any account in a commercial bank that spends six months without movement enters the category of inactive account, and is deemed dormant after 12 months of inactivity.

 Maintaining dormancy for 5 years leads the funds on the account to be transferred to the central bank by commercial bank.

If the funds are not claimed by owners from the central bank in five years, they are then transferred to the Government treasury account.

However, rightful owners and beneficiaries of the funds can claim the funds through the respective commercial banks by presenting bona fide valid documentation.

“At any time, the account holder may come back and claim the money through the commercial bank close family members (spouse or child) may as well come and claim the money with valid documentation,” central bank officials say.

The officials told The New Times that the top causes of unclaimed funds, include people who left the country to live abroad and their accounts became inactive.

Other reasons include death of account holders who have no heirs or successors as well as lack of knowledge that one can claim money from the Government Coffers.

Funds could also be unclaimed on occasions when the requirements at bank level that are a bit tough to meet  such as court proceedings and administrative documents, among others.

The officials said that the growth rate of the unclaimed funds is fairly low, about Rwf500 million in 2017.

Total claims were, however, quite low as only 15 per cent of the funds were successfully claimed.

“Taking into account that funds are sent to BNR after five years, the growth rate of this fund is very low, for example last year we received around Rwf500 million and the returned amounts are close to 15 per cent of the total received. This is due to documentation check which is done to ensure fraudsters are not presenting themselves as beneficiaries,” the bank said in a statement responding to The New Times’ inquiry.

The reclaim process involves beneficiaries or claimants, writing to the commercial bank holding the account, requesting the money with valid supporting documents.

If the request fulfils the requirements, the commercial bank writes to the central bank and forwards the supporting documents.

BNR then assesses the request and, if deemed valid, returns the money back in the customer’s account as asked by the commercial bank.

If the assessed request is not valid, BNR will revert with a negative response to commercial bank, then the commercial bank will get back to the claimant on whatever is required to complete the claim.

The central bank said that the management and handling of the unclaimed funds will change in coming days and will involve the Ministry for Justice in the process of approving the return or payment.

This is in accordance with the 2015 law on management of abandoned property.