15 May, 2023 @ 20:30
1 min read

Spanish state received €300 million over 10 years from ‘forgotten’ bank accounts

Spain is largest 'eurozone' country with biggest 'real wage' fall in 2022
Image by Niek Verlaan from Pixabay

THE SPANISH state has received around €300 million over a 10-year period from bank accounts or other assets such as shares that have been forgotten or abandoned by their owners

That’s according to the latest figures from the General Directorate of State Assets, which reveal that in 2021 alone, the last year for which data is available, more than €30 million in cash, shares or other personal property went into the public coffers. 

The 10-year period when the state received €300 million ran from 2012 to 2021, while the record amount transferred so far was in 2020, when more than €62 million was handed over by banks and other financial institutions. 

The transfer of these assets is done under the Public Administration Assets law, which obliges any financial institution to inform the state of abandoned accounts and other personal property ahead of its transfer, according to financial daily Cinco Dias

Under the law, these funds must be used to finance programs that improve education systems for people with disabilities. 

The forgotten or abandoned funds do not become property of the state until a 20-year period has passed. This means that the reasons for one year producing a greater or lesser monetary sum are to be found two decades previously. 

Experts cited by Cinco Dias suggest that the reason so much money was transferred in 2020 is because 20 years previously Spain had begun the transition from the peseta to the euro, prompting a lot of movements in people’s accounts and reorganisation of finances. 


Under the legislation, banks are obliged to send a notification to the account holder three months before the 20th year of inactivity arrives. But banks and other financial institutions often have difficulty locating these people, especially if they have changed addresses. 

The last step is to publish a notice in the Official State Gazette, known in Spanish as the BOE, before the assets finally become the property of the Spanish state. 

As well as these forgotten assets, the Spanish state also received around €80 million between 2010 and 2019 from inheritances where no beneficiary could be found.

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Simon Hunter

Simon Hunter has been living in Madrid since the year 2000 and has worked as a journalist and translator practically since he arrived. For 16 years he was at the English Edition of Spanish daily EL PAÍS, editing the site from 2014 to 2022, and is currently one of the Spain reporters at The Times. He is also a voice actor, and can be heard telling passengers to "mind the gap" on Spain's AVLO high-speed trains.

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