Records draw blank, but customer should have known sooner

Retaining personal information,
Sam lived in New Zealand for a few years in the late 1990s. He had a savings account and a 90-day term deposit of $60,000. His instructions were to reinvest the money at the end of each term at the prevailing interest rate. He left his money with the bank when he left New Zealand.
December 2012

In 2003, Sam’s term deposit was broken and the funds sent overseas by telegraphic transfer. A week later, Sam deposited $100,000 into a 120-day term deposit via an inward telegraphic transfer. This continued to roll over through till 2012 at the bank’s prevailing interest rate.

The bank contacted Sam before each expiry date, told him what the new interest rate was, and asked him to contact it if he wished to change anything. As a further step, each time the term deposit rolled over, the bank sent Sam a confirmation letter.

In 2012, Sam asked the bank for information about the breaking of the term deposit in 2003, and the transfer of the funds overseas. He said he did not do this, and did not receive the funds.

The bank investigated and replied that it no longer held 2003 transaction information, apart from information in bank statements and letters. These revealed the term deposit had been broken, and funds transferred to his savings account with the bank, before being sent overseas by telegraphic transfer. It did not have information about where the funds went.

Our investigation

Sam was not satisfied with the bank’s explanation, and asked us to investigate.

We advised Sam that we did not have the power to investigate a complaint more than six years before the customer first became aware of, or should reasonably have become aware of, the event. We thought Sam should reasonably have been aware of the 2003 term deposit break and funds transfer in that year because he received a bank statement in 2003 recording the term deposit funds going into the savings account from the broken term deposit and the subsequent telegraphic transfer. The statements and letters were sent to the correct address, and Sam still held these documents. Despite this, Sam had not raised a concern for nine years.

Furthermore, we were satisfied the bank had carried out suitable checks to see what information it still held. Banks are required to hold transactional information for seven years, but not beyond this.


We declined to take the matter further.

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