Monday, March 30, 2009
7 News Investigations: Makes No Cents
You already know certain banks and financial institutions are getting a huge bailout of taxpayer dollars, but 7 News has uncovered millions and millions and millions of dollars that banks could be easily claiming, but instead many are ignoring it. It's a real wake-up call sure to leave all taxpayers fuming. Seven's Dave Kartunen has our story: Makes No Cents.
WSVN -- They pleaded poor at congressional hearings.
Speaker: "We understand that the taxpayers are angry."
Even as their corporate jets, lavish parties and big executive bonuses raised questions about their financial decision making.
Speaker: "Don't say, 'Oh, we're not using that money for bonuses,' come on."
The feds bailout plan now hands them more than a trillion of your tax dollars.
Speaker: "It's basically a blank check."
But in the last few weeks we found those very same companies are missing out on big bucks, millions and millions and millions of their own money. Money they haven't bothered to claim.
Walter Graham, Chief of Unclaimed Property: "About 1200 accounts have not been claimed, totaling about $984,000."
In Florida alone, bailed out banks and investment companies have just shy of a million dollars sitting in state coffers waiting to be claimed. Remember, these are companies whose business is keeping track of cash: AIG, Bank of America, Wells Fargo.
Walter Graham: "Nationwide banks and, also local banks."
Citi Group, GMAC, where does the money come from? It's uncashed checks, liquidated stock, dividends, credits on over-payments, refunds money that's apparently falling through the cracks of the companies now begging taxpayers for money to survive. Our sister station in Boston found banks had a million dollars in unclaimed cash there as well.
Hank Phillippi Ryan: "The fact that you're holding this money for these companies, is it a secret?"
Assistant Treasurer, Tom McAnespie, Massachusetts Treasurer's Office: "It's not a secret."
In fact, look where we found it. We just went on-line to this website: www.missingmoney.com, and we found big bucks in states all across the country. In New Mexico there's more than $75,000, with some of the cash for AIG and GMAC.
Rick Homans, New Mexico Secretary of Taxation and Revenue: "They either haven't been aware that the money is here, they may not have looked hard enough to find it, or they just haven't wanted to put the effort into it."
In Texas, we found Bank of America, Chase, Wells Fargo and others are missing out on their piece of $642,915.
RJ DeSilva, Texas Comptroller's Office: "Hey, come and claim it. It's rightfully yours."
And there's a whole lot more. Looking up companies in California, we found a gold mine, $2.6 million!
Garin Casaleggio, California Controller's Office: "If they are undergoing financial hardship, this could help them out."
Officials in all the states 7 News talked to say, bailed out companies should give them a call.
RJ DeSilva: "They've got revenue, which they have not thought of before, but now it's time to bring them home."
In every state we checked, there's money to be claimed.
U.S. Representative Barney Frank, (D), Chairman House Financial Services Committee: "I think they should ask for the money!"
Congressman Barney Frank is chairman of the House Financial Services Committee and a key player in the federal bailout. He's outraged by the numbers. He's now demanding companies find and claim their cash and explain how they didn't know the money was there.
Barney Frank: "So I'm going to be insisting that they tell us what their whole systems are, how did this happen, and, more importantly, how do they stop if from happening in the future?"
Some companies told us they were aware of the funds or were checking into it, but as Barney Frank says, they're going to have to answer to Congress.
Now, you can also check and see if you have unclaimed money.
FOR MORE INFORMATION:
TO FIND MONEY IN FLORIDA:
TO FIND MONEY NATIONWIDE: