Dormant bank accounts are the focus as another U.S. territory puts an unclaimed property law on its books. On February 6, 2012, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) enacted a new law called the Escheat Act of 2011. The new law increases the number of U.S. unclaimed property reporting jurisdictions to 55. CNMI joins other U.S. territories such as Guam, the Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico in taking advantage of the revenue generation brought about by these escheat laws. The new unclaimed property law of CNMI, however, does not follow the Uniform Unclaimed Property Act. It applies solely to banking institutions providing for the escheatment of dormant bank accounts and other banking property.
To put this into some form of perspective, new reporting jurisdictions for unclaimed property don’t happen that often. In fact, one of the more recent American states, territories, or commonwealths to enact unclaimed property legislation for the first time was Guam in 1986.
The Northern Mariana Islands is a U.S. commonwealth, comprised of 15 islands between Hawaii and the Philippines. The largest of the islands is the island of Saipan, where over 90% of the population lives. Two other islands, Tinian and Rota, have significant populations, while the remaining 12 islands are either uninhabited or have populations of less than ten residents. The islands have been a commonwealth of the United States since 1975. As is the case for other U.S. territories, the CNMI are represented within the United States House of Representatives, but are only able to vote within committees and not on the House floor.
It’s very likely that the CNMI will be the last unclaimed property reporting jurisdiction for quite some time, as other territories such as Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands already have legislation on the books. However, should another one come to light, we’ll be sure to report on it within our Unclaimed Property Blog and our Unclaimed Property Newsletter – Keanotes.