Rwanda's central bank to collect all unclaimed monies

Saturday January 7 2017

The headquarters of National Bank of Rwanda

The headquarters of National Bank of Rwanda (BNR), the central bank, in Kigali. PHOTO | FILE 

By Robert Mbaraga

The Rwandan government will start collecting all unclaimed balances on accounts with deposit taking institutions, which according to the central bank will be managed as abandoned property.

In a recently published notice, the National Bank of Rwanda (BNR) has instructed banks, microfinance institutions and e-money issuers to transfer all balances classified as unclaimed on a designated account with BNR and to provide quarterly reports on all dormant accounts and unclaimed money.

“Unclaimed funds and balances on account that have been dormant shall be transferred to the Central Bank by a deposit taking institution and the e-money issuer, within a period not exceeding thirty (30) days” the regulation reads.

The BNR notice comes to implement the 2015 law relating to the management of abandoned property that puts an obligation on the central bank to provide the Ministry of Justice with information on the abandoned money on accounts held in banks and other financial institutions.

The regulation gazetted in December 2016 emphasises that it will have direct effects after its publication.

Bankers say the requirement to report accounts that have been dormant for five years has been the practice within the Rwandan banking sector and according to them this will entail direct implementation of the requirement to transfer to the central bank all money not claimed in the past five years and above.

“Banks will start transferring all funds classified as unclaimed as soon as possible but of course they will have to first make all necessary effort to reach the owner and the transfer to central bank will be done after failing to get the rightful owner,” said Maurice Toroitich, the Managing Director of KCB Bank Rwanda and Chairman of the Rwanda Bankers Association.

The regulation obliges banks, microfinance institutions and e-money issuers to notify the owner, to their last known address, of their intention to hand over their unclaimed balances to the Central Bank at least one year before the expiration of the five years’ period.

Pre-empting reluctance of some banks to swiftly transfer the concerned funds, the central bank’s regulation provides a penalty.