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Chapter 16 - Escheat of unclaimed Bank deposits

Chapter 16 - Escheat of unclaimed Bank deposits

28.1601 Definitions.


As used in this chapter, unless the context clearly requires otherwise:

(1) "Bank" means any bank, trust company, savings bank, and savings bank having shares of capital stock, organized and existing under any general or special law of this territory, including any such bank, trust company, savings bank, and savings bank having shares of capital stock, which may be in voluntary dissolution or which may be in the possession of the commissioner of banking and insurance or in receivership, and any private banker including any private banker for whose banking business a receiver has been appointed, and any national banking association organized under the Acts of Congress and doing business in this Territory including any national banking association which may be in voluntary dissolution or in receivership. This definition includes the Development Bank of American Samoa.

(2) (a) "Unclaimed Bank deposit" means and includes an unpaid balance of money to the credit or in the name of: a maker or payee of a certified check held by a Bank, together with all interest accrued thereon whether entitled thereto or not on the records of the Bank, and which after a period of 10 years has remained unclaimed, and a depositor, in any capacity whatsoever, with a Bank in any demand, savings, or time deposit account, together with all interest accrued thereon whether credited thereto or not on the records of the Bank, which after a period of 10 years has remained unclaimed exclusive of:

(i) the unpaid balance in any such account which has been reduced by withdrawal or increased by deposit, exclusive of interest credit, within 10 years;

(ii) the unpaid balance in any such account which is evidenced by a passbook in which entry of interest credit has been made within 10 years or which passbook has been presented for entry of interest credit within 10 year;

(iii) the unpaid balance in any such account with respect to which the Bank has written evidence received within 10 years that the depositor or other person entitled thereto had knowledge thereof;

(iv) the unpaid balance in any such account of a depositor known by an officer or employee of the Bank to be living; and

(v) the unpaid balance in any such account which is evidenced by a passbook, which book has, to the knowledge of the Bank, within 10 years been balanced or verified.

(b) In the case of a time deposit, no account shall be deemed to be an unclaimed deposit until 10 years after its original date of maturity.

(c) "Unclaimed Bank deposit" also means, includes, and refers to credits and deposits of every kind, character or form in any name whatsoever and in any capacity whatsoever, including but not limited to individuals, corporations, companies, associations, societies, firms, partnerships, joint stock companies, and fiduciaries of any nature.

(3) "Treasurer" means the Treasurer of American Samoa.

28.1602 Certified check or account acquired through merger or otherwise.


Any bank which, through merger, reorganization, consolidation, or otherwise, acquires any certified check or any account of any depositor in any capacity whatsoever, shall, for the purpose of this chapter, be deemed to have been in existence from the date such check was certified by any other bank or such account originated in any other bank; and such certified check or account constitutes an unclaimed bank deposit if it otherwise accords with the definition of an unclaimed bank deposit.

28.1603 Fees or charges on inactive or dormant savings or time deposit account.


During the 10 year period of inactivity or dormancy specified in section 28.1601(2) and until payment of funds to the Treasurer as provided in section 28.1608, it is unlawful for any Bank to assess, collect, or deduct any fee or charge from any savings or time deposit account because of that inactivity or dormancy, except for the cost of publication in accordance with section 28.1605.

28.1604 Presumption of no claimants-Escheat.


It shall be presumed that there is or are no claimant or claimants who or which directly or indirectly has or have any right, title or interest in any unclaimed bank deposit held by a bank, and such unclaimed bank deposit shall be subject to escheat to the Territory.

28.1605 Notice of unclaimed deposit-Mailing-Publication.


(a) For the purposes of this section, an unclaimed bank deposit shall be deemed to be one in which as of August 1 of a particular year no transaction has occurred during the preceding 9 consecutive years.

(b) Every bank having any such unclaimed deposits shall, prior to August 15 of the year in which it becomes an unclaimed deposit mail a "notice of unclaimed deposit" to the owner or owners of each such account in the name and to the address of the owner or owners which appears on the records of the bank, provided, however, that the bank need not mail the notice to an owner or owners if any mailings by the bank to that owner or owners within the prior year were returned to the bank as undeliverable. The notice of unclaimed deposit shall be in such form as approved by the Treasurer and must set forth the name of the bank and where the name of the bank has been changed by merger, reorganization, consolidation or otherwise, it must also set forth the original name and address of the bank in which the deposit originated, the name of the owner or owners and a statement that the balance of the account will be paid over to the Territory on the following January unless the bank is contacted in writing by the owner or his representative. If such a written response is received by the bank, the response is deemed to be a transaction with respect to the account and the account thereafter ceases to be an unclaimed bank deposit for the purposes of advertising as set forth in subsection (c) of this section.

(c) Every bank having any unclaimed bank deposits must advertise once during the second week of the month of October and once during the second week of the month of November, printed in 8-point size type in a newspaper published in American Samoa, a notice entitled "Notice of the names of persons appearing as the owners of unclaimed amounts held by (name of Bank)". Such notice must be in a form approved by the Treasurer and must set forth the name and address of the bank and where the name of the bank has been changed by merger, reorganization, consolidation or otherwise, the notice must also set forth the original name and address of the bank in which the deposit originated, and must list in alphabetical order the name of each person to whose credit an unclaimed bank deposit stands, but not the amount to the credit of each account, but no account shall be advertised in which the unpaid balance is less than $50.00. Any amount paid to a newspaper for such publication must be charged by the bank equally against the unclaimed bank deposits so advertised.

28.1606 Annual reports to Treasurer of unclaimed deposits-Failure to make-Inspection by public.


(a) Not later than the thirty-first day of January in each year after the year in which this act takes effect and as of December thirty-first of the preceding year, every bank must make in duplicate a written report to the Treasurer containing a true and accurate statement of all unclaimed bank deposits held by the bank as of such date.

(b) The report must set forth the name and address of the bank and where the name of the bank has been changed by merger, reorganization, consolidation or otherwise, also the original name and address of the bank in which the deposit originated, and must list in alphabetical order the name of each person to whose credit an unclaimed bank deposit stands, the last address of the depositor appearing on the records of the bank, the identification number, if any, of each account, and the amount to the credit of each account.

(c) The report must, where the bank is a corporation, be signed by its president, a vice-president, Treasurer, assistant Treasurer, cashier, or assistant cashier. If such bank is in voluntary dissolution, the report must be signed by one or more of its trustees designated by its Board of Trustees for that purpose. If such bank is in the possession of the commissioner of banking and insurance, the report must be signed by the commissioner or by a special deputy commissioner appointed by him and in actual charge of the business and affairs of the bank. If a receiver has been appointed for a corporate bank or private banker, the report must be signed by such receiver. In the case of a private banker, the report must be signed by such banker.

(d) The person signing the report must certify that such report is a true and accurate statement of all unclaimed bank deposits held by the bank as of the report date to the best of his knowledge, information and belief after diligent inquiry. The person signing the report may, in making the report, rely upon information with respect to unclaimed bank deposits furnished by the officers and employees and records of the bank.

(e) If the bank has no unclaimed bank deposits a written report so stating must be made to the Treasurer.

(f) Any bank which fails to file such a report with the Treasurer shall forfeit to the Territory the sum of fifty dollars ($50.00) for each day such report is not filed, and if not paid, such penalty must be sued for and be received by the Treasurer in a civil action in the name of the Territory. The Treasurer has the power to waive the penalty and to extend the time within which a report may be filed.

(g) Immediately upon receipt of such report the Treasurer must deliver one duplicate of the report to the attorney and the Treasurer must cause the other duplicate report to be permanently bound with an alphabetical index of the depositors with appropriate references to the bound reports. The bound reports and indices must be open for public inspection during usual business hours and under regulations prescribed by the Treasurer.

28.1607 Escheat-Deposits of less than fifty dollars.


All unclaimed bank deposits of less than fifty dollars ($50.00) held by any bank as of December thirty-first of any year shall escheat to the Territory. When a report thereof is made to the Treasurer pursuant to the provisions of section 28.1606 the funds must be paid to the Treasurer simultaneously with the making of such report.

28.1608 Unclaimed deposits reported on December 31 to escheat-Deposits less than fifty dollars reported separately.


(a) All unclaimed bank deposits reported by any bank as held by it as of December thirty-first, one thousand nine hundred and eighty-seven and as of December thirty-first of each year thereafter, regardless of the amount thereof, shall escheat to the Territory. When a report thereof is made to the Treasurer pursuant to section 28.1606 the funds must be paid over to the Treasurer by such bank simultaneously with the making of the report. All unclaimed bank deposits of less than fifty dollars ($50.00), when reported in any report or revised report or supplemental report filed, must be separately listed under the heading "Deposits of less than fifty dollars ($50.00)" and the total of all such deposits must be separately indicated.

28.1609 Penalty for failure of bank to pay over unclaimed deposits when payable-Suits.


Any bank which fails to pay over to the Treasurer any unclaimed bank deposit as provided in section 26.1608 shall be liable to a penalty of fifty dollars ($50.000) for each day such payment is not made. If such penalty, is not paid, the Treasurer must file a civil action in the name of the Territory against the Bank to recover it.

28.1610 Actions for escheat-Jurisdiction-Procedure.


It is the duty of the Attorney General within a reasonable time after receipt by him of the duplicate report to institute actions for escheat to the Territory of the unclaimed Bank deposits disclosed by such report which are in an amount of fifty dollars ($50.00) or more and which have not been paid over to the Territory. The High Court has jurisdiction of such actions. In any such action absent defendants may be proceeded against by newspaper publication, upon order of the court.

28.1611 Liability of Bank ceases on payment to Treasurer.


No Bank which must pay over to the Treasurer any unclaimed bank deposit shall be held liable to any claimant having or asserting any right, title or interest in or to the same personally or in any capacity whatsoever; and no action or proceedings of any kind for the recovery of money represented thereby, or any part thereof, shall lie against such bank.

28.1612 Bank records of escheated deposits-Preservation-Copies furnished to Treasurer.


No bank shall destroy or otherwise dispose of any of its records or files pertaining to any unclaimed bank deposit which is subject to escheat to the Territory or which has escheated to the Territory; but all banks must preserve such records and files, and any of the originals thereof or photostatic copies thereof duly certified by any official of the bank to be true copies, must be furnished to the Treasurer whenever he makes a request therefore in writing.

28.1613 Records of Treasurer of escheated deposits-Disposition.


(a) The Treasurer must establish and maintain records of all escheated unclaimed bank deposits received by him, which in the case of deposits with a net balance of fifty dollars ($50.00) or more, must show in alphabetical order the names of the depositors, the amounts received, the name and address of the bank from which the funds were received, the identification numbers of the accounts, if any, and must also establish and maintain an index thereto, which records and index must at all times during the usual business hours be open to public examination.

(b) The Treasurer must credit seventy-five percent (75%) of the amount of each escheated unclaimed bank deposit received by him to the general fund, and must establish and maintain a separate account to be designed as the “unclaimed bank deposits escheat receive fund” which is hereinafter referred to as the “reserve fund” and credit it with the other twenty-five percent (25%).

(c) The Treasurer must invest and reinvest all moneys credited to the reserve fund in bonds of interest bearing notes or obligations of the United States or in bonds or interest bearing notes or obligations guaranteed as to principal and interest by the United States or in bonds or interest bearing notes or obligations for the payment of the principal and interest of which the faith and credit of the United States are distinctly pledged or in bonds or interest bearing notes or other obligations of this Territory or in bonds or interest bearing notes or other obligations of any county, city, town, township, borough, village or other municipal or political subdivision of this Territory, issued under authority of any law of this Territory.

(d) The income received from the investments and reinvestments of the reserve fund must be added to the reserve fund and be held and retained as part thereof subject to like investment and reinvestment.

(e) The reserve fund must be used and expended by the Treasurer for the payment of expenses and costs incurred by the Treasurer and the attorney general pursuant to the provisions of section 28.1614.

(f) At any time after receipt by the Treasurer of any escheated unclaimed bank deposit anyone claiming to be entitled thereto or to any part thereof may file a claim therefor with the Treasurer who is authorized to pass upon and determine the claimant’s claim. If the Treasurer determines the claimants proof of title is sufficient, he must pay the escheated unclaimed bank deposit or such part thereof to which the claimant is entitled, without interest, out of the reserve fund to the claimant. If the cash balance in the reserve fund is insufficient to make such payment the Treasurer must sell such of the investments of the reserve fund as may be necessary to make such payment.

(g) If the Treasurer determines that the claimant’s proof of title is not sufficient to entitle the claimant to such payment, the claimant may, within sixty days after the date of such determination by the Treasurer, file an action in the High Court against the Treasurer, and it shall be the duty of the Treasurer, and of the attorney on his behalf, to take such action with respect thereto as they may deem necessary to protect the interests of the Territory. The court may proceed in the action in a summary manner or otherwise. Upon proof satisfactory to the court of plaintiff’s claim of title to the escheated unclaimed bank deposit or any part thereof, judgment must be entered establishing his claim and ordering the Treasurer to pay to the plaintiff the amount specified in such judgment together with such costs as the court may allow the plaintiff. Upon service upon the Treasurer of a copy of such judgment certified to be a true copy by the clerk of the High Court, the Treasurer must pay to the plaintiff out of the reserve fund the amount of amounts specified.

(h) If the court determines that plaintiff’s proof of title is not sufficient to establish his claim to the escheated unclaimed bank deposit or any part thereof, a judgment to that effect must be entered. If on any appeal from the judgment, it is reused and plaintiff’s claim of title to the escheated unclaimed bank deposit or any part thereof is sustained, the Treasurer must pay to the plaintiff, out of the reserve fund, the amount or amounts to which the plaintiff is entitled, together with such costs awarded to the plaintiff.

28.1614 Services by salaried officials to be without charge-Expense of administration.


All services required by this chapter to be performed by the Clerk of the High Court, the Marshall and any other salaried public official, shall be without fees, costs, counsel fees or any other charge, but the Treasurer must pay out of the reserve fund all expenses and costs incurred by the Treasurer for the administration of the fund and for the establishment and maintenance of his records relative to escheated unclaimed bank deposits, and also all expenses and costs incurred by the attorney general, including costs and expenses for legal and clerical services. The Treasurer and the Attorney General may each employ such persons as needed to carry out the provisions of this chapter and fix their compensation.

28.1615 Credit unions.


When no transaction has occurred in a credit union member's share or deposit account for 12 months and his whereabouts are unknown, as verified by the return of a certified letter addressed to him at his last known address, all sums due to the member shall be credited to a special reserve account. If the sums are not reclaimed within a five year period, they shall escheat to the Territory and be forwarded to the Treasurer in accordance with procedures in this chapter.