Steven Jackson, Business Reporter
Jamaican savers have left roughly J$330 million untended at the country's largest bank, National Commercial Bank, which will become the property of the government unless account holders turn up before yearend to claim the funds.
The balances range from J$5.8 million held by British Air Trwst (sic) to a minimum of J$1.43 held by Milton Dennis.
On Saturday, the Ministry of Finance published a list of about 15,600 depositors with accounts at NCB that have been dormant for at least 15 years, but some date back to Independence, based on the last transaction dates.
Wednesday Business tallied 1,600 of these accounts, which totalled J$33.5 million and made a rough extrapolation that the full list represents about J$326 million of savings. Neither NCB nor the Bank of Jamaica (BOJ) was able to supply an exact tally up to press time.
The Banking Act requires the publication of these accounts at least four times in a year in order to allow persons the opportunity to claim these monies, according to Section 40 of the Act. "If these monies remain unclaimed at the end of the year they will become part of the Jamaica Government's revenues," read the notice accompanying the 78-page list.
The dormant accounts of other banks are expected to be published in coming days and weeks.
NCB's head of public relations Belinda Williams said the bank classifies accounts as dormant after a year of inactivity. The accounts are also subject to penalties, but the bank applies those with discretion, Williams said. She did not say whether the accounts stop accruing interest immediately at classification of dormancy.
Many of these account holders are thought to have died but not all—including an account held by Kingsley Cooper, who is the head of Jamaica's top modelling agency, Pulse Investments Limited.
The last transaction date on Cooper's account of Pulse Investments was 1994 with a five-figure balance of J$58,000, according to the list.
Cooper acknowledged his status to Wednesday Business adding that the matter would be rectified upon his return from travels overseas.
"Indeed I am in the UK now; will follow up when I get back," he said.
Other account holders may have migrated including Cain Duckett and Rupert William, both of New York addresses with balances of roughly J$845,000 and J$748,900, respectively. The last transaction on Duckett's account was in 1986.
The largest account, British Air, is linked to an address at 'The Towers' in Kingston. The last transaction date on the J$5.79-million account was in 1990.
Commercial banks held $407.45 billion in deposits up to February 2012, according to BOJ data. Of this amount, J$203.5 billion or roughly half were savings deposits, while J$113 billion or about one-quarter were demand deposits.
The estimated J$326 million of dormant funds at NCB is roughly 0.21 per cent of the bank's J$155-billion deposit base.