Unclaimed Financial Assets Authority (UFAA)CEO Kellen Kariuki during during the launch of unclaimed Financial Assets awareness creation in Nairobi.PHOTO DAVID NJAAGA
The Government has dismissed a mystery social media message claiming it plans to take over the Sh8.3 billion held by various financial institutions and whose owners cannot be traced.
The message, being circulated via the WhatsApp messaging platform, claims beneficiaries who do not come forward by the end of this month will have to forfeit their cash, which will then revert to the State.
The Unclaimed Financial Assets Authority (Ufaa) — which holds unclaimed property in trust — however, said yesterday it had no such plans and asked the public to ignore the message.
“It has been noted with concern that members of the public are receiving unsolicited messages on WhatsApp misinforming them that those with unclaimed assets have until June 30, 2017, to lay claim to your unclaimed assets or else they all get forfeited to the State effective 0001hrs on July 1, 2017,” said Chief Executive Kellen Kariuki in a statement posted on the Ufaa website.
She said the authority would hold unclaimed assets “in perpetuity” until claimed by their rightful owners.
“There are no prescribed deadlines in law for lodging a claim on the reported unclaimed assets, neither would they be reverted to the State,” said Ms Kariuki in the statement.
The authority urged financial institutions to surrender shares, cash deposits, mobile money balances, dividends and retirement benefits that had not been claimed by their owners or close relatives for an extended period of time.
The fear that the funds may be used to finance sectors of Government is mainly based on the fact that the Higher Education Loans Board (Helb) had pitched to access 60 per cent of the funds to run a revolving fund for financing higher education.
The authority said at least 300 holders had surrendered Sh8.3 billion in cash and foreign denominated currencies, and reported 180 million units of shares by the November 1, 2016, deadline.
Although Ufaa has been processing payments for lodged claims, uptake has been low, with only one per cent of unclaimed billions in investments seized by the Government getting claimants.
As at January this year, Kenyans had made 2,160 claims, amounting to Sh83.5 million against the Sh8.3 billion surrendered. Ufaa has paid out 31 per cent of the claims, meaning only 669 claims have been successfully processed.
Another 180 million shares of listed companies have also been declared in the update given yesterday by Ufaa amid an intensified push for compliance.
This was up from Sh6.2 billion and 114.6 million units of shares, with banks reporting 963 unclaimed repositories.
Another 175 institutions notified the authority that they did not have any wealth in suspense.
Ufaa urged owners and beneficiaries to lodge claims of their ‘lost’ assets by filing fully supported claims.