The single question presented in this action is whether the Custodial Escheat Act (L. 1951, c. 304; N.J.S. 2 A:37-29 et seq.) is applicable to national banking institutions. Defendant maintains that it is not.
The answer filed by the defendant bank to the custodial escheat action instituted by the State sets forth nine separate defenses. Except for the first, these are substantially the same defenses raised and passed upon by this court in State v. American-Hawaiian Steamship Co. , 29 N.J. Super. 116 (Ch. Div. 1953). That decision, unless modified or reversed on appeal, is dispositive of the last eight defenses.
By its first separate defense, defendant alleges that it is "a national banking association organized and existing under the laws of the United States of America" (12 U.S.C.A. § 21 et seq.), and as such is not a corporation organized under the laws of this State, nor one organized under the laws of any other state and authorized to do business under the laws of this State, nor a "person" within the meaning of the custodial statute; and that consequently the custodial escheat statute is inapplicable to defendant and this court has no jurisdiction of the subject matter of the action.
N.J.S. 2 A:37-30 provides:
"Whenever a corporation organized under the laws of this state shall have custody or possession of, or shall have deposited with or given to an agent or trustee residing within or without the state custody or possession of, any moneys which are or shall be payable to any person as a dividend upon the capital stock, preferred or common, of the corporation, or as interest payable upon the corporation's bonds, indentures, notes or other formal instruments evidencing the indebtedness of the corporation, or any moneys payable as wages from the corporation to any person, and whenever any person or any corporation organized under the laws of any other state and authorized to do business in this state shall have custody or possession of any moneys payable by such person or corporation to any person as wages earned within this state, or of any moneys otherwise having a situs within this state, which moneys are payable to any one person in any of the categories above enumerated and the owner of, beneficial owner of, or person entitled to the same has been and remains unknown for the period of 5 successive years, or the whereabouts of such person has been and remains unknown for the period of 5 successive years, or such personal property has been and remains unclaimed for the period of 5 successive years, then the superior court may in a summary action brought in the name of the state of New Jersey by the attorney general or such attorney-at-law as he may designate, direct the corporation or other person aforesaid to deliver such moneys to the state treasurer for safekeeping." (Italics ours)
The statute expressly refers to escheatable dividends, interest or wages in the custody or possession of (1) "a corporation organized under the laws of this state," or (2) "any person," or (3) "any corporation organized under the laws of any other state and authorized to do business in this state."
National banks derive their existence and corporate powers from the federal statute under which they were organized, 12 U.S.C.A. § 21 et seq.; they are instrumentalities of the Federal Government, subject to its paramount authority, Bank of America Nat. Trust & Savings Ass'n v. Lima , 103 F. Supp. 916 (D.C. Mass. 1952), and derive their powers solely from federal law, First National Bank in St. Louis v. State of Missouri at inf. of Barrett , 263 U.S. 640, 44 S. Ct. 213, 68 L. Ed. 486 (1923). However,
they are subject to the laws of a state in respect of their affairs, unless such laws interfere with the purposes of their creation, tend to impair or destroy their efficiency as federal agencies, or conflict with the paramount law of the United States. First National Bank in St. Louis v. State of Missouri at inf. of Barrett, supra; Anderson National Bank v. Luckett , 321 U.S. 233, 64 S. Ct. 599, 88 L. Ed. 692 (1944) (Kentucky escheat act).
Clearly, a national bank is not a corporation organized under the laws of this State. Nor is it a corporation organized under the laws of any other state and authorized to do business in New Jersey. Cf. Steward v. ...