Transfer to Fund
The Dormant Account Act provides a scheme for the transfer of dormant funds in banks, building societies and the post office bank to the care of the State. It preserves the right to reclaim the funds. It provides for a scheme for the disbursement for charitable purposes or purposes of societal and community benefit, of funds that were not claimed. The Minister may make regulations for the purpose of giving effect to the legislation.
Institutions have obligations in relation to dormant accounts. They must notify holders of the accounts. Where accounts are valued below certain amounts or other conditions apply, it is obliged to publish a notice in national papers.
Where there has been no transaction on the account for a specified number of years, the institution is to transfer the monies to the Dormant Account Funds. Each institution is to make a statement to the NTMA of monies transferred. Where an institution is wound up or has its licence revoked, no further monies are to be transferred to the account until such time as it is entitled to do so again.
The Dormant Accounts Fund is managed by the NTMA. It consists of a reserve account into which monies are applied to meet repayments to claimants as well as fees, costs and expenses, of the NTMA and those of Inspectors and the investment and disbursement account.
If the reserve account is depleted, monies from the investment and disbursement account are to be transferred. If the latter account is also depleted, the Central Bank is to make advances to fund the same.
The NTMA is to prepare annually an investment plan for the fund having regard to the Board’s disbursement plan and any guidelines by the Minister. The procedure for the owner of a dormant account to make a reclaim is set out. There is provision in relation to interest to be applied.
Each institution shall furnish an annual certificate of compliance furnished by a duly authorised officer to the Minister. It is in a prescribed form and is to certify compliance with legislation. There are extensive Inspector powers, equivalent to those under the unclaimed life policy legislation.
There is the power to examine the books and records of banks to verify compliance with legislation. A report may be made in relation to breach to the Minister. On foot of the Inspectors report, the Minister may issue a direction to an institution compelling it to comply with legislation or remedy a material defect in the institution’s systems regarding dormant accounts.
Provision is made for the establishment of the Board and its corporate governance. There are nine members of the Board to be appointed by the Minister based on guidelines. The term of office is five years. When the Board gives a direction to the NTMA to make a disbursement, it shall have regard to its own disbursement plan. If it proposes to make disbursements in excess of €300,000, it requires the prior consent of the Minister.
The NTMA is to make an annual report to the Board on details of monies in the fund. The Board is to annually make a report of its activities to the Minister. The NTMA is to keep accounts in relation to the fund and in relation to its management. They are to be transmitted to the Comptroller and Auditor General for audit.
The chief executive of the NTMA accounts to the PAC, Public Accounts Committee for the functions of the NTMA under the Act. The chairperson of the Board accounts to the PAC for matters relating to the functions of the Board.
Where an institution transfers money to the fund or notifies the NTMA of a claim for repayment, it shall not identify the account holder. Where the Minister for Finance transfers monies to the fund from the intestate estates, the fund deposit account or applies for repayment of any funds from the fund, he shall not identify a deceased person or a person rightfully claiming the monies.