Switzerland seeks claimants for 2,600 dormant bank accounts worth millions

Swiss franc currency is seen in a cash drawer in this 2015 file photo.
Swiss franc currency is seen in a cash drawer in this 2015 file photo.PHOTO: REUTERS

GENEVA (AFP) - For anyone who may have forgotten about their fortune sitting idle in a Swiss bank account, a list published Wednesday could be a must read.

The first-of-its kind list published by the Swiss Bankers Association identifies 2,600 accounts with total assets estimated at 44 million Swiss francs (S$62.6 million) which have been dormant for at least 60 years.

For accounts that have been idle since 1955, individuals have one year to make a claim or the assets will be transferred to the federal government, an SBA statement said.

For accounts dating from 1954 or earlier, claimants have a five-year window.

The publication of the accounts followed a law passed on Jan 1 which aimed in part to help give banks legal clarity on how to handle dormant assets, the SBA said.

"By publishing this information, the banks are making a last attempt to re-establish contact with the customer," SBA chief Claude-Alain Margelish said in a statement.

"This publication gives customers and their legal heirs another opportunity to assert their claims to dormant assets before the banks must then transfer these definitively to the government."

A spokeswoman for the association, Sindy Schmiegel Werner, told AFP that the legislation was pushed for by banks anxious to avoid the complications posed by dormant accounts, including some that have been idle for nearly 100 years.

Only accounts with more than 500 Swiss francs were listed.

The association is also looking for claimants for around 80 dormant safety deposit boxes.

Switzerland intends to publish a fresh list every year, with the 2016 version identifying accounts dormant since 1956.

Switzerland has previously published lists of dormant accounts, but only those with a direct link to victims of the Holocaust.