Have tougher laws against retention of wrongful credit

The action taken by the bank in Ms Connie Cheong's brother's case is rather passive and consists of merely conveying the information to the party which has received the funds in error ("Legal to keep mistakenly wired funds?"; Monday).

The sender can only hope that the other party would respond to the bank's request to return the funds.

The bank's fiduciary duty to a customer does not extend beyond conveying his request to the other party, and as a profit-oriented entity, it makes no economic sense for the bank to go the extra mile. Thus, the onus is on the account holder to be more proactive.

In order to compel the other party to return the funds, the party who has made the mistake should make a police report and attach a copy to his request to the bank to retrieve the funds.

The bank's request to the other party to return the funds should alert him to the fact that a police report has been made.

That would put pressure on him not to act indifferently and ignore the request.

To promote Singapore as a world financial hub, we should, perhaps, consider having a Theft Act, similar to what Britain has, where keeping money credited to a wrong account could lead to charges against the account holder for "retaining wrongful credit".

Chin Kee Thou

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 15, 2015, with the headline 'Have tougher laws against retention of wrongful credit'. Print Edition | Subscribe