On 18 March 2015, the Prime Minister announced a number of changes to the unclaimed moneys provisions, including:
- extending the required period of inactivity before bank accounts and life insurance policies can be deemed unclaimed to seven years;
- exempting Foreign Currency Accounts (that is, accounts held in a currency other than Australian dollars) and children’s accounts (accounts held by or on behalf of an individual under 18 years of age) from the unclaimed moneys provisions;
- ensuring that accounts that satisfy the legislative ‘notification requirements’ after being deemed unclaimed, but prior to being transferred to the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC), do not have to be transferred to ASIC;
- removing the requirement for ASIC to publish an annual Unclaimed Moneys Gazette, while still ensuring that data can be made available and searchable on ASIC’s MoneySmart website; and
- introducing secrecy provisions to limit access to information in the unclaimed moneys database to those to whom the information relates, or their agent.
These reforms will be given effect by the Banking Laws Amendment (Unclaimed Money) Bill 2015 (Exposure Draft Bill) and the Banking Amendment (Unclaimed Money) Regulation 2015 (Exposure Draft Regulation).
The Government is seeking input from stakeholders on the Exposure Draft Legislation and Regulations. We welcome all interested parties to lodge a submission.