South Carolina Found $1.8B Sitting in a State Bank Account and No One Knows Who It Belongs To: ‘Swept Under the Rug for Years’

By: Julia Mehalko | Published: Apr 13, 2024

The government of South Carolina has found $1.8 billion just sitting in a state bank account. Nobody knows who this money belongs to, nor where the money came from, or where the money is supposed to eventually go.

This shocking find has resulted in many state officials scrambling to find out what to do with it — and how to manage the public outrage over the state’s constant mishandling of money.

A Mystery Bank Account

For the past decade, this mysterious bank account has collected $1.8 billion. Interestingly, some officials were aware of it, while others weren’t at all. Now, however, many are just trying to figure out where it came from.

South Carolina State House dome seen in the daytime.

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An investigation by the South Carolina Senate panel has now been launched. The bank account is also being looked at by both state and private accountants to better understand its mysteries. 


An Excess of Money

It’s not often that a state government suddenly finds a billion dollars just sitting in a state bank. This has clearly surprised both officials and politicians in the state.

A close-up of many American one hundred dollar bills.

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“It’s like going into your bank and the bank president tells you we have a lot of money in our vault but we just don’t know who it belongs to,” Republican Senator Larry Grooms explained.

Where Did This Money Come From?

Policymakers in South Carolina have a lot of questions about this secretive bank account. First and foremost, they want to know why this money was put in this specific bank account to begin with. Why was this money, or this account, not recorded accurately?

A close-up of the back of many American hundred dollar bills.

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“This is one of the things that was swept under the rug for years,” Grooms stated.

South Carolina’s Ongoing Accounting Issues

The discovery of this curious bank account is just the latest news amid South Carolina’s ongoing accounting issues. Just last year, South Carolina’s comptroller general Richard Eckstrom, an elected Republican official, resigned.

A South Carolina state line sign seen in the daytime in front of green crops.

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His resignation came after his agency double-posted money in higher education accounts. Eventually, this led to a $3.5 billion error.  

Paper Errors

All of these paper errors seem to have occurred when South Carolina changed their accounting systems. This transition first began in 2007.

People on a South Carolina beach in the daytime with buildings behind them.

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Once this issue was discovered, investigators then became aware of this bank account that holds more than $1 billion. Now, investigations are underway to attempt to fix these many issues involved with South Carolina’s accounting.


What Senate Leaders Know

As the Senate is currently investigating this case in a panel led by Grooms, some leaders have already come out to explain some of what they know about this hidden bank account.

Cars parked on the street in front of old, colorful buildings in Charleston, South Carolina.

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According to these Senate leaders, it seems that money was shifted into this bank account every time South Carolina’s books were off. Once this money was sent to this account, the books would be balanced.


Questions Remain

Though officials do know some facts about this account, they still don’t know a lot. This has naturally led to many questions. For example, officials still want to know exactly where this money came from.

A close-up of many American hundred dollar bills.

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So far, Senate leaders haven’t been giving any records to explain this. As the investigation continues, this could change. 


South Carolina’s Treasurer

Even more interesting, it appears that the state’s Treasurer, Curtis Loftis, an elected Republican, has claimed he has invested money in this secret bank account. As a result, he made $200 million in interest for South Carolina.

A portrait photo of South Carolina Treasurer Curtis Loftis.

Source: Allen Anderson/Wikimedia Commons

As treasurer, Loftis’ job is to write checks for South Carolina. Upon his declaration that he put money in the account, many have wondered why he didn’t inform the General Assembly of the money.


A Lack of Communication

In answer to these questions, Loftis has stated that telling the General Assembly isn’t a part of his job. He has also claimed that the Comptroller General’s Office hasn’t worked well with him in his investigation into the $1.8 billion.

An aerial view of a bridge over water in the daytime in South Carolina.

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An audit conducted has shown that there’s a severe lack of communication between the two offices, as they don’t communicate as well as official offices should.


Future Answers

South Carolina officials and residents are hoping to get some answers in the near future. Both Loftis and Comptroller General Brian Gaines, who took over upon Eckstrom’s resignation, will meet before Grooms and a Senate committee soon.

An aerial view of downtown Charleston, South Carolina.

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Grooms has already insinuated that Gaines and the Comptroller General’s Office — who found and reported the $1.8 billion bank account — have responded to all of his inquiries thus far. Grooms has also claimed he feels Loftis and his office should’ve reported the mistake first. 


Changes Ahead

Already, Grooms and the South Carolina government have made some drastic changes after these very public accounting errors were discovered. The Senate has approved allowing residents to vote on a constitutional amendment that will make the comptroller general an appointed position, rather than an elected position. 

A horse-drawn carriage on a Charleston, South Carolina street by old colorful buildings.

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Grooms has also stated that an amendment making the treasurer appointed may also occur. “Politics really shouldn’t come into play. People prefer their accountants not be crusaders,” Grooms explained.