These case studies have been modified so as not to identify any actual cases at FIDReC. They are provided for purposes of learning and are not necessarily indicative of outcomes at FIDReC.
Mdm Tan was a 65-year old lady. When doing her spring cleaning before Chinese New Year, she discovered a fixed deposit slip dating back to 1998. The deposit matured some time in 1999. She went to the bank the next day and tried to cash in the slip. She was told that the bank did not have any transactional records. This meant that the money must have been withdrawn and the account closed. The bank declined to pay on the fixed deposit slip.
Dissatisfied with the bank’s response, Mdm Tan filed a claim at FIDReC for the value of the fixed deposit plus interest.
At the mediation stage, the bank representative explained to Mdm Tan that based on the terms and conditions of the fixed deposit placement, the deposit slip was not evidence of title to money and was only an advice of placement of the deposit. The representative stated that if the fixed deposit was renewed and not closed, Mdm Tan would have received fixed deposit renewal advices over the last 20 years. The bank would also continue to maintain records if the fixed deposit account was not closed. Mdm Tan insisted on being shown some evidence from the bank that the deposit had been withdrawn and the account closed. However, the bank was not able to produce such records given the long lapse of time. Mdm Tan chose to refer her case to adjudication.
At the adjudication, the Adjudicator considered the arguments of both sides and the evidence that was presented to him. He found that Mdm Tan had failed to prove her claim. On the evidence before the adjudicator, it appeared more likely that the funds were withdrawn, and the account closed. This was because the bank had fully explained its record-keeping procedures and the checks in place to ensure the accuracy of the records. The absence of any record of the fixed deposit and the fact that there were no renewal advices suggested that the account had indeed been withdrawn and closed.
Key Learning Points
• Depending on the terms and conditions of the placement of a fixed deposit, a fixed deposit slip may not be sufficient evidence that the bank owes a customer money.
• Do monitor your accounts regularly so you can keep track of your finances.
• Do ensure that your personal particulars, including contact number and address, with your bank are kept updated.
• Read notices and letters that you receive from the bank. You can ask your family, friends or even a bank officer to explain these to you if you do not understand what they are for.
• The Monetary Authority of Singapore requires banks to retain transaction records for at least 5 years following the termination of a business relation or completion of a transaction. Banks have no obligation to retain transaction records beyond that period.
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