Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank has been fined £25,000 and ordered to pay £2,805 in compensation after transferring $401,103 from a deceased man’s Jersey account without the correct authorisation.
ADCB pleaded guilty to ‘intermeddling’, according to local media outlet Jersey Evening Post, an offence relating to the transfer of a deceased person’s assets or estate without first having the lawful authority to do so.
The court heard how the bank attached a no debit instruction on all accounts owned by Varghese Abraham after his death, in June 2017, including the savings account in Jersey.
However, another court in the United Arab Emirates ordered that all money held in his name with the bank was to be transferred to the court’s treasury so that his wealth could be dealt with in accordance to UAE probate law.
A total of $401,103 was transferred from the Jersey-based account the following day to one of Abraham’s UAE-based accounts.
Two weeks later the bank notified the Jersey Financial Services Commission about the error, after a senior officer at ADCB realised the account had been emptied while conducting routine checks.
As the deceased client had his accounts in Jersey, and the value of these accounts was over £10,000, a Jersey Grant should have been applied for in the Royal Court of Jersey and then presented to the bank, with instructions as to where the funds were to be transferred, in advance of the money being paid out.
The prosecution suggested a fine of £125,000 and also asked that compensation be paid as the mistake could have an impact on the reputation of Jersey as a finance centre.
But the court accepted that the bank did not had any malicious intentions when they made the error.
‘The court finds it clear that this was a mistake and has taken account all mitigation and the purposes of the legislation,’ the bailiff, Sir William Bailhache, said.
He added that if it has been a case involving fraud the consequences would be very different.
A fine of £25,000 was imposed and the bank was ordered to pay £2,085 in compensation.