Chilean man finds father's million-dollar bankbook, government fights back

·1 min read

By Esteban Medel

SANTIAGO (Reuters) - Exequiel Hinojosa's father was saving up to buy a house in the 1960s and 70s and managed to save up almost 140,000 pesos, about $163 now, meticulously detailed in a bankbook of a now defunct credit union.

After his father's death the book remained stored away in a box for decades until Hinojosa found it among his father's belongings. Similar bankbooks have been found to be worthless, but Hinojosa's has an annotation reading "state guaranteed."

With interest and inflation, the 140,000 pesos are now estimated to be worth over 1 billion pesos, or nearly $1.2 million.

This has caused a substantial headache for the state and Hinojosa, as the case has made it all the way to supreme court.

"That money is our family's. He saved it by working really hard," Hinojosa said, adding that the family didn't even know the bankbook existed until they found it.

"I never thought this process would turn into a kind of lawsuit towards the state," he added.

Multiple courts have ruled in favor of Hinojosa, but the government has appealed every step of the way. Now a final court of appeals will decide the fate of the million-dollar bankbook.

"If the justice system, the supreme court, the court of appeals rule in my favor, all that's left to fix the problem is paying what is due, nothing more, nothing less," Hinojosa said.

(Reporting by Reuters TV; Writing by Alexander Villegas; Editing by Sandra Maler)

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