By James Anyanzwa
According to statistics from the Treasury, the original estimates of unclaimed assets in the entire economy stood at Sh200 billion, with financial institutions mainly enjoying such undisclosed wealth.
“Original estimates of these assets was Sh200 billion but reported was Sh9.1 billion with the banking sector holding Sh7.1 billion,” Dr Geoffrey Mwau, an Economic Secretary at the Treasury told Business Weekly.
The estimated range of unclaimed assets range between Sh37 billion and Sh81 billion which excludes public trustee, official receiver, NSSF and the National Hospital Insurance Fund, Utilities, bail and property among others.
Unclaimed financial assets are possessions that are presumed abandoned because they have remained unclaimed by the owner for a certain period of time as set by the law. These possessions are in the form of forgotten cash accounts, unpaid dividends, pensions, life assurances and investments, fixed deposits and certificates of deposit.
They include among others bankers cheque amounts that have been outstanding for more than two years, bank accounts that have remained dormant for more than five years and shares where for more than three years the beneficiary has not claimed or has not communicated with the company and includes the dividends due on the shares.
However the new law designed to deal with the mounting heap of unclaimed financial assets currently held by commercial banks, insurance firms, stockbrokers, pension funds managers and the state law office is now in force.
This follows the enactment of the Unclaimed Financial Assets Act on December 16, last year, which has compelled companies to amend their Articles of Association to allow them surrender all their unclaimed assets to a State-run fund.