Suit against DBS: Was account closed?

Mystery surrounds a DBS fixed-deposit account opened in 1983 by a prominent Malaysian businessman, who is taking the banking giant to court to claim money he says it owes him.

The bank's case is that Mr David Chua Kok Tee, 66, closed the account within two years of opening it.

But Mr Chua said he never closed the account, which had an initial deposit of $135,954.43, and was to be renewed automatically every month at the prevailing interest rate.

He said the account lay untouched for 29 years until he came across the original receipt two years ago, which led him to enquire about it.

DBS told him the account had been closed, but it could not provide any transaction details since records of closed accounts are not kept beyond seven years.

Mr Chua denied closing the account and sued the bank after it rejected his demands to return his money. He is now claiming the principal sum, plus interest accrued since April 1983, for an unspecified total in the six-day hearing which opened in the High Court yesterday.

Mr Chua is a property developer who holds directorships and appointments in commercial and administrative organisations in Malaysia.

He opened the fixed-deposit account in March 1983 as security for a safe deposit box facility with the bank. The original fixed-deposit receipt was kept in the box and retrieved with other items in June 2012, when the DBS branch terminated the facility and the box had to be closed.

Mr Chua wanted the fixed-deposit funds credited to his current account, but DBS could not retrieve records of the account.

After he complained to the Monetary Authority of Singapore in October 2012, DBS asked for more time to investigate. In January last year, the bank told him that its records showed the account had been closed.

Mr Chua, represented by Mr Tan Teng Muan, maintains this is not the case, noting that the receipt, which has to be presented to the bank for withdrawal, was in his personal possession.

But DBS, represented by Mr Tham Hsu Hsien, said the original receipt was defunct as it would be superseded by a new receipt that would have been issued when the deposit was renewed in April 1983.

The bank contends that documents will show the account was closed by 1985. DBS also argues that Mr Chua is barred from bringing the suit as he has passed the statutory time limit of six years.

This article was first published on September 04, 2014.
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