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Pensioner endured legal battle for £193,000 inheritance after sort code error

By Luke Powell, PA

A pensioner was forced to wage a court battle for his £193,000 inheritance after it was transferred to another bank customer by mistake.

Peter Teich, 74, from Cambridge, was due to receive the money in April following the death of his father.

But after mistakenly providing his solicitor with the wrong sort code, the inheritance was transferred to the account of another Barclays bank customer in the Cambridge area who refused to return it.

Mr Teich, who is deaf, said his solicitor contacted Barclays and was initially told it would take a week for the money to be returned.

But in May, he claims he received a letter from the bank which stated he had been “mis-advised” about the funds being restored.

Instead, the bank said it had credited his account with a “small token gesture” of £25, Mr Teich claimed.

His wife Veronica Becko, 75, told the PA news agency: “We just felt numb. It didn’t seem possible or right that a big bank like Barclays could not sort this out. It was an obvious mistake.

“They [Barclays] didn’t seem sorry about it. They kept saying it was our fault and there was nothing they could do.”

Mr Teich, who previously worked in the building industry and charity sectors, only realised the error after his sister emailed him on April 26 – the day of the transfer – to say she had received her £193,000 share.

He had given his correct name, address and Barclays account number in Cambridge to his solicitor, but the last two digits of his sort code were incorrect, Ms Becko said.

Mr Teich hired lawyers and, after spending £12,000 in legal and court fees, obtained the other Barclays customer’s name in June.

He then had to spend a further £34,000 to obtain a court injunction to force the other Barclays customer to pay, and in July the inheritance was finally paid into his account.

However, when he asked the bank to repay his £46,000 in legal fees, he claims Barclays refused.

Mr Teich said in a statement: “I freely acknowledge my mistake in this unhappy saga.

The couple have condemned Barclays’ handling of the case (Ian West/PA)

“I provided the sort code of the wrong Barclays branch. But my error fades into near insignificance when considered in the context of Barclays’ conduct.”

Ms Becko said it was only after they contacted The Guardian newspaper that the bank agreed to pay the fees and offer a further £750 for their inconvenience.

“Barclays has done the right thing, finally, although through a rather long-winded way,” Ms Becko said.

“We hope our story will help other people who find themselves in a similar situation.”

Barclays was contacted by the PA news agency for comment.

In a statement to The Guardian, Barclays said: “It is evident that on this occasion we have failed to meet the high standards that Mr Teich can expect to receive from Barclays, and for this we have offered our sincere apologies.

“After taking a closer look at this situation, we can confirm that Mr Teich can expect the fees he has incurred to be refunded in full with interest, together with a payment for the distress and inconvenience this matter has caused.”