Have you ever checked whether you have unclaimed financial assets? Do you know of any unclaimed financial assets under your name or relatives’ name? According to the Unclaimed Financial Assets Authority (UFAA), Kenya has 54 billion shillings worth of unclaimed assets held by the authority.
Unclaimed assets are those assets that have been presumed abandoned or in respect of which there are conditions raising a presumption of abandonment
Speaking in a media interview, UFAA Chairperson Kigo Njenga told Kenyans to confirm the status of any assets registered under their names. Explaining the recent push behind asking Kenyans to claim their assets, Kigo stated the money would be plowed back into the economy once claimed.
“We want Ksh52 billion to go back to the mainstream economy because that is the main objective of having these unclaimed assets authority. We are in the process of telling people to come and get their money. We are doing a lot of advertisements, including printing names on the print media.”
In Kenya, for many years, firms held unclaimed assets as they struggled to locate their rightful owners or beneficiaries and were liable for any claims arising in respect of the assets.
Following a recommendation by the task force on Unclaimed Financial Assets for a framework to govern unclaimed financial assets in Kenya, Parliament passed the Unclaimed Financial Assets Act (the “Act”) in 2011. The Act established the Unclaimed Financial Assets Authority (the Authority”) which began operations in 2012.
Of critical importance, holders of unclaimed assets have a duty to make reasonable efforts to locate and notify owners of their assets before reporting the unclaimed assets to the Authority.
They, in addition, have a duty to report and deliver assets presumed abandoned under the Act to the Authority and provide information as the Authority may require within such times and such intervals as may be specified.
Upon delivering unclaimed assets to the Authority, the Authority assumes custody and responsibility for the safekeeping of the assets, and the holder is relieved from all liability, in respect of the assets, to the extent of the value of the assets paid or delivered for any existing claim(s) which may arise.
Also, as a consequence, the Authority will defend and indemnify the holder from any claim of the assets by another person or country under its escheat laws.
Another ancillary role expected of the holder is with respect to record keeping. Generally, a holder of unclaimed assets should maintain the name and the last known address of the owner (where it is known) of the unclaimed assets for ten years after they become reportable.
One would ask whether these obligations are merely prescriptive or mandatory. Under the Act, failure to deliver unclaimed assets with the Authority or to perform an obligation imposed by the Act attracts various sanctions depending on the nature of the offense committed.
The Act applies to all assets that would be deemed to be unclaimed assets under its provisions including those that would have been presumed abandoned before the coming into force of the Act.
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How to Check and Claim
One can log into the Authority’s website to check whether they have unclaimed assets. You can also do so by dialing *361#. By following the stipulated procedures, all accounts holding the unclaimed assets.
There are four types of claims i.e., claiming as an original owner, on behalf of someone (beneficiary or deceased), on behalf of a business entity, and on behalf of a minor.
To recover the funds, you can download forms from the agency’s official website, fill in the details, and submit them to the UFAA.