There he found what had been waiting for years to be claimed: the legacy turned out to be around 3 billion lira, equivalent to about $1.9 million, in cash, according to a report in the regional newspaper «La Regione» (in Italian).
However, the 48-year-old heir’s initial delight at the discovery turned sour when he presented the lira notes to an Italian bank for converting into euros. The bank explained that its deadline for exchanging lire for euros had expired in 2012, and thus the notes were worthless.
Not wanting to give up, the heir took his case to court with the help of a lawyer, where he argued that he couldn’t comply with the cut-off conversion deadline since he wasn’t even aware of the money’s existence. The move is reminiscent of India’s sudden move two years ago to outlaw two bank notes, in a bid to was taken to crack down on tax evasion.
Still, the Italian banker can console himself with the remainder of his inheritance. His departed grandfather, an Italian national who owned a construction company and spent his final years living in the Italian-speaking region of Switzerland, also left his grandson two apartments, healthy bank accounts and a share portfolio.
If only the notes in the safe deposit box been Swiss francs: Switzerland’s bank notes recalled in 2000 can still be converted until the end of April 2020 at their full value with the Swiss National Bank, or SNB. The Bank of England is even more generous, and will exchange all notes issued since the central bank’s founding in 1694, without any deadline restrictions.