Just for reference, this is um, theoretical.

What is the legal/banking position if an employer transfers a large (very) sum of money into a staff members bank account?

Is said person obliged to return it? Are the bank likely to step in and return it on their behalf? What happens to the interest on the sum, if we were, theoretically, talking about a few billion, that would stack up rather quickly - is the interest returned also?

This has absolutely not happened to anyone I know, I'm just curious. Honest. Maybe.


Thanks Foxed.


It's not your money.

According to one article, the interest on the money could be negotiated in some cases to be yours, but I wouldn't plan on it.

From MSN:

According to a complaint filed by the state of Minnesota, the 37-year-old social worker received a $2.6 million payment from the state Department of Human Services that had been intended for a local hospital. Instead of immediately reporting the mistake, the woman and a friend opened investment accounts, bought jewelry, purchased four vehicles including two Land Rovers and spent $3,817 at Best Buy. Six weeks after getting the money, she called the Human Services Department to ask why the check had been sent to her, according to the complaint. When informed the payment was an error and the money had to be returned, the woman reportedly told the department to talk to her attorney and refused to respond to follow-up calls.

As the prosecutor said to a St. Paul Pioneer Press reporter, there's a big difference between keeping money when you can't reasonably be expected to determine the true owner -- like that $20 bill on the street -- and keeping money when you can. The state had the pair's accounts frozen and is prosecuting for theft as well as civil charges, though the woman returned the unspent money and the property she bought. More from MSN Money

A better approach to an unexplained windfall is to keep the money in a separate account while you track down the source. Who gets to keep the interest earned will be one of those things you work out with the rightful owner's attorneys.

Bankrate has a similar story posted as well.


You are obligated to return it, and they will come after you as soon as they figure out the error.

You probably need to notify somebody as soon as possible and keep records of your correspondence showing you performed due diligence in returning the funds. Transferring the money into an account at the same institution is also wise. You can't look like you are hiding it, but keeping it mixed with your actual funds is also asking for extra trouble or work.

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