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Agency to probe banks, insurance firms over unclaimed assets

By Moses Michira | January 26th 2016

Banks and insurance firms will be subjected to a fresh audit to check if they are irregularly holding money that has not been claimed by the rightful owners.

The Unclaimed Financial Assets Authority (UFAA) has said it was dissatisfied with the compliance levels among the companies in surrendering wealth owned by other people, including the dead.

“Our auditors will be conducting a probe on selected companies to confirm the numbers,” UFAA Chief Executive Kellen Kariuki said Monday.

Already, the agency has more than Sh6 billion in unclaimed assets, including cash and shares that it is holding in trust for the rightful owners.

It will be the first time that company books will be audited by the agency, which has so far received more than 1,700 claims.

Ms Kariuki added that some of the claims may be fraudulent, prompting her agency to enlist the services of the Integrated Population Registration System (IPRS) — another Government department that keeps all records of citizens.

Ordinarily, claimants lodge their request for the surrendered assets before UFAA auditors begin to establish if the claim is genuine. But that process has been difficult in the absence of a proper database.

Last-known information

Companies holding unclaimed assets are required to submit the last known information on the rightful owners to UFAA, whose role is to try and locate them. Claimants of assets owned by dead relatives are required to prove their relationships and why they should be beneficiaries.

IPRS, which was launched last year, has so far collected and compiled data on 35 million Kenyans in a searchable database.

It is envisaged that the database will have the records of every citizen, including their entire family tree.

George Anyango, the director general of IPRS, said the portal was already helping the Government and private sector entities, such as financial and telecommunications companies, to undertake due diligence.

UFAA requires companies to surrender unclaimed assets by November 1 every year.

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