PUTRAJAYA: Is there a bank account that you have completely forgotten about? Or a matured fixed deposit with auto-renewal instructions that you have not checked for a very long time?
Chances are the funds in there may have been classified as unclaimed money and kept securely by the Registrar of Unclaimed Money under the Accountant-General’s Department in a consolidated trust account.
As of June, the total amount of unclaimed money stood at RM5.779bil, involving 55 million records since 1977.
Deputy Finance Minister II Datuk Lee Chee Leong explained that when an account has been dormant or inactive for more than seven years, the balance in the account is deemed to be unclaimed money as defined under Section 8 of the Unclaimed Moneys Act 1965 and will be surrendered to the Registrar.
This includes savings accounts, current accounts and matured fixed deposits with auto-renewal instructions.
“There are two other categories: firstly, money that is legally payable to the owner but has remained unpaid for more than a year such as salary, bonus, commission to staff, dividend, other payable accounts, other receivable accounts with credit balance, and matured fixed deposits without auto-renewal instructions,” he told The Star in an interview.
“Money to the credit of a trade account that has remained dormant for a period of more than two years such as trade payable accounts and other receivable accounts with credit balance are also considered unclaimed money.
“In simpler terms, unclaimed money is money that has failed to be given to its rightful owner.”
Lee also debunked a common misconception that owners continue to earn interest on unclaimed money.
The money that will be refunded will have no addition or deduction from the original amount, in accordance with Section 11(3) of Act.
For example, if you had an unclaimed amount of RM100 some 20 years ago, the amount refunded today would still be RM100.
He also stressed that there is no expiry date to check and claim the funds.
“So there is no need for the public to panic, as there is no rush.
“The Government is also developing an online system for checking and applying for refunds. It will be ready by next year,” he said.
The largest amount ever refunded to an individual was almost RM6mil (the person had several accounts) while the smallest sum was 39 sen.
Lee also reminded companies bound by the Act that there is a need to maintain unclaimed money records and the funds – if any – have to be submitted to the Registrar by March 31 each year.
Failure to comply with these provisions can result in a fine of up to RM20,000 and for a repeated offence, a subsequent fine not exceeding RM1,000 for each day the offence continues.
Lee also advised the public to be careful when it comes to their money so that it will not get classified as unclaimed.
According to the 2015 Account General’s Department annual report, there were 1,719 unclaimed submissions with a total receipt of RM666.8mil that year, compared to 1,724 submissions amounting to RM512.9mil in 2014.
The Accountant-General is wholly responsible for the management of unclaimed money in the country.
As a trustee of the funds, the Registrar plays three important roles in enforcing the Act.
It inspects company records to identify unclaimed money; manages submission of that money; and manages its return to the rightful owners.
For more information, visit www.anm.gov.my.