Swiss leave $7 bn in pension funds unclaimed

3rd January 2014, Comments 0 comments

Financial woes do not appear to be much of an issue in Switzerland, where nearly $7.0 billion remains unclaimed from "forgotten" pension accounts, according to a media report.

Some 855,000 job-related pension accounts have been left unclaimed and transferred to a special fund charged with tracking down the beneficiaries, Swiss public broadcaster SRF reported late Thursday.

In total, some 6.3 billion Swiss francs ($6.96 billion, 5.12 billion euros) have been "forgotten" for more than two years and transferred to the Substitute Occupational Benefit Institution, according to SRF.

Head of the fund, Max Meili, said that on average the accounts contained 7,500 Swiss francs.

"However, there are individual accounts worth more than a million," he stressed.

The accounts are often "forgotten" when the beneficiary changes jobs, goes off on maternity leave or moves out of the country, according to the report.

The forgotten accounts fall under the second tier of Switzerland's three-tier pension system -- a mandatory occupational pension funded jointly by employers and employees.

If employees change jobs or stops working in Switzerland, they must transfer the account to their new company's pension provider or to a vested benefits account.

Over half of the unclaimed accounts belong to foreign workers who have left the country, according to the report, stressing that in some 70 percent of the cases, the beneficiaries cannot be tracked down.

They can meanwhile reclaim their pensions with assistance from Switzerland's Second Pillar Central Office.

The Swiss pension system also comprises a mandatory state pension insurance for all and an optional private savings plan for employees who want to increase their retirement income.

© 2014 AFP

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