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National policy expected to net in more unclaimed financial asset holders.

The government is working on a national policy that could see all holders of unclaimed financial assets submit them to the Unclaimed Financial Assets Authority (UFAA).

Only listed firms and government agencies have been submitting financial assets left unattended for more than two years.

According to the unclaimed financial asset Act such assets include bank savings and deposits, cheques and drafts, money orders and funds held or owing under any life or endowment insurance policy or annuity contract.

Others include shares, dividends, gift certificates, credit memo, unpaid wages, allowances, bonuses and terminal benefits, assets held in safe deposit box or repository and those held by court or a state department.

Already,UFAA is collecting bids for consultancy services for the development of a comprehensive national policy with public debate on the same expected this year.

The number of firms that have reported unclaimed financial assets to the government has increased 208 per cent from mid last year, pushing deposits at the trust fund to Sh33 billion up from Sh25.9 billion, after UFAA threatened to fine managers of non-compliant firms Sh50,000 fine per day or face jail terms.

The state agency received unclaimed assets worth Sh10.7 billion and reported 446 million units of unclaimed shares by December last year against 4,124 claims worth Sh180 million.

In an email response to the Star, UFAA attributed the high response to a strong partnership with sector regulators.

''We have been conducting education and awareness forums with view to sensitising holders on unclaimed financial assets regime. We have partnered with sector-based regulators: CBK, IRA, RBA, CMA, SASRA, CA among others to deepen compliance amongst players,'' said UFAA chief executive Kellen Kariuki.

The authority undertakes audits of holders to ascertain accuracy and completeness of their reports and their levels of compliance.

UFAA chief has in the past accused firms for under-declaring the exact amount of unclaimed funds they hold, putting the figure to close to Sh283 billion in unclaimed assets.

Whereas remittance from holders has grown astronomically from Sh300,000 in 2012 when UFAA became operational to Sh33 billion by end of last year, claim rate is still low, an aspect attributed to less public awareness.

''Public awareness and sensitization is a continuous exercise. The Authority has an elaborate strategy, and initiatives, to reach as many claimants as possible and guide them on how to lodge their claims,'' said Kariuki.

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Publication:The Star (Nairobi, Kenya)
Date:Jan 20, 2018
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