By Lillian Aluanga-Delvaux
Kenya’s Unclaimed Financial Assets law is the first of its kind in the region.
According to the Chief Executive of the Unclaimed Property Assets Register (K) Limited, Joe Ngigi, no country on the continent has a similar legislation that outlines management of unclaimed financial assets.
“It’s a progressive law, and will ensure better management of our unclaimed assets,” says Ngigi.
Article 39 of the Act provides for establishment of a body mandated to trace owners of unclaimed assets that have long been held by other parties like financial institutions.
The authority is also allowed to take, purchase or otherwise acquire, hold, charge or dispose of movable and immovable property.
The board, according to the Act, shall comprise five persons appointed by the Cabinet secretary. These persons should not be public officers and must be knowledgeable in banking and investment, insurance, accounting, auditing, and law.
Among the board’s appointees will also be an individual to represent the interests of consumers of financial services, and the Permanent Secretary to the Treasury. But to date there is no indication of when this body will be set up.
To ensure money deemed unclaimed assets eventually finds its way back to owners, there will be an Unclaimed Assets Trust Fund, into which such monies will be deposited.
Management of fund
The Act also provides for penalties payable to the fund and gives leeway to the Unclaimed Assets Authority to appoint agents to assist in the re-unification of assets with the owners.