Authority tells firms to surrender unclaimed billions whose owners can’t be traced

By: JAMES KARIUKI

Public and private institutions holding billions of shillings in unclaimed funds whose owners or beneficiaries are untraceable have until Saturday to surrender them.

The Unclaimed Assets Authority, which reported receiving Sh3.4 billion mainly from financial institutions in unclaimed deposits and securities maintained that the month-long amnesty would not be renewed after the October 31 deadline but will instead be followed by civil and criminal suits against defaulters to force them to surrender the money.

The directive affects law firms, the pensions department, private pension schemes, insurance firms, schools, colleges, the National Social Security Fund (NSSF), banks, microfinance institutions and stockbrokers among other firms holding funds that do not belong to them.

In an advertisement placed in the press, the authority said it planned to pursue all defaulters with a view to recovering the money, which will then be publicised so owners could file claims for recovery of the lost funds.

STATUS REPORT

It said that all companies must forward a status report in both soft and hard copy stating their status and the action taken to comply with the law.

It noted that all companies that declare any money must surrender it promptly to the authority before the deadline while those who believe they have no “hanging” funds will also have to declare that in writing to the authority.

The authority says it aims to recover Sh15 billion within the next three years together with accrued interests on stocks as well as non-cash financial assets such as land title deeds held by hospitals, among other items.

The authority said that all firms must declare their status by Saturday, when it will also issue a report on the developments on the issue in the past one month.

It will then give a way forward on the non-cash financial assets held by banks in other currencies once it is declared.

The law states that compliance is mandatory and any defaulter will be penalised by the authority while stern measures will be initiated to recover the money by having the defaulter surcharged as well as charged for non-compliance in criminal court.