The heart-rending story of Karl Lenobel, who spent much of his childhood in Nazi concentration camps, was one of the first to emerge out of the Santander probate scandal.
Karl was captured as a teenager in Vienna with his parents and moved from camp to camp until the war ended in 1945. He survived, but his parents perished at the hands of the Nazis.
The last thing he remembered his mother saying before she died was to look after his older sister, Katherine, who’d escaped to Britain before war broke out.
So, when Katherine’s husband died in the Nineties, Karl, who had emigrated to America to work as a sea merchant, moved to London. He stayed there until he died, aged 84, in October 2004.
The inheritance of Karl Lenobel was put at risk after Santander failed to inform his solicitor of several accounts in his name. Pictured: A file photo of the train tracks leading to Auschwitz. It is not clear which camps Lenobel was held in
Because neither he nor Katherine, who’d passed away six months earlier, had children of their own, Karl left most of his savings to three children’s charities.
He told his solicitor, Geoffrey Greenhouse, that because he hadn’t had a childhood, he wanted to help make sure others didn’t miss out. Karl had been a prudent saver and invested the money he’d accumulated over the years in the stock market.
His sister had left him her life savings to pass on to the charities, too.
Mr Greenhouse acted on Karl’s wishes to the letter, closing the three Santander accounts in his will and distributing the money. Yet, inexplicably, the bank failed to inform Karl’s solicitor about two other accounts in his name.
Mr Greenhouse had no idea these accounts even existed until last November, when he received a letter from Santander stating that there was £127,338 in two Instant Saver accounts belonging to Karl.
The bank had made a note on the accounts that Karl had died, but had failed to contact Mr Greenhouse — even though it had his details on file.
At the time, May 2017, Santander said the problems first came to light around 18 months before, when it began investigating ways to improve its treatment of bereaved customers.
Mr Greenhouse told MailOnline: ‘I’m very pleased that the Mail had this campaign all those years ago.
‘It showed that banks had dormant accounts and were failing to return large sums of money.’