The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has devised a new regulatory framework that would allow it to seize billions of naira from dormant bank accounts, keep them, and use the proceeds to purchase treasury bills and other government securities.
The CBN explained the management procedures for monies trapped in dormant accounts, what the funds might be used for, awaiting customer refunds, compliance expectations, monitoring and evaluation, dispute resolution, and penalties for infractions in recently released guidelines on the management of dormant accounts, unclaimed balances, and other financial assets in banks and other financial institutions in Nigeria.
According to the circular issued by the CBN’s financial policy and regulatory department head, Chibuzo Efobi, the apex bank will establish the Unclaimed Balances Trust Fund (UBTF) with a sizeable management committee for the appropriate administration of the money.
According to the paper, eligible accounts have balances that have been dormant at banking institutions for at least 10 years.
Dormant accounts, unclaimed balances, and other assets in savings, current, term, and domiciliary accounts are among the financial assets affected. Financial assets, such as those maintained on cards and wallets as salary, wages, bonuses, or commissions, would be transferred to the UBTF Account Pool for safekeeping by the CBN.
The guideline also detailed that “funds received from a correspondent bank without sufficient details as to the rightful beneficiary and/or a recall of funds made to the remitting bank to which the Nigerian bank’s account had not been debited, a judgment debt for which the judgment creditor has not claimed the amount of judgment award; and any other deposits or financial assets that may be designated by CBN” will also be taken into the custody of the apex bank.
The CBN stated that with the consent of the Unclaimed Balances Management Committee, funds from inactive accounts might be invested in Nigerian treasury bills and other securities.
To obtain the funds, a beneficial owner must fill out an asset reclaim form at any bank, according to the bank. After then, financial institutions have up to 10 working days to process and validate the claims before submitting the request to the CBN.
The apex bank must return the monies to the financial institution that submitted the initial payment request within 10 working days so that they can be transferred to the claimant, who has an unlimited right to pursue the claim. The bank also provides 15 working days to resolve any immediate disagreements.
Following the implementation of the CBN’s recent decision, banks would relinquish custody of billions of naira now held in various dormant accounts.
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