Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Demand Deposits (11) - Biblical Principle

Here is a biblical principle that applies to demand deposits.

If a man gives his neighbor silver or goods for safekeeping and they are stolen from the neighbor's house, the thief, if he is caught, must pay back double. But if the thief is not found, the owner of the house must appear before the judges to determine whether he has laid his hands on the other man's property…. The one whom the judges declare guilty must pay back double to his neighbor. (Ex 22:7-9).
When someone takes the goods of another for safekeeping and it goes missing, he is accountable for the loss. If the thief is found, the thief must make restitution. If not, the person caring for the property is accountable fro the loss. He must make restitution to the owner, because what his neglect is the equivalent of theft.

The other important thing to note is that the Bible refers to the person who presented the valuables for safekeeping as the owner, even when they are in the house of the other person. This confirms the principle that the ownership of property does not transfer to person who takes it for safekeeping. The owner remains the owner, until the goods are actually sold.

Applying this principle to banking, the bank that treats money that has been deposited for safekeeping as its own asset has misappropriated something that does not belong to it. If it was taken before the judges, it would have to pay back double to the owner. Paying back the amount that was deposited is not enough.

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