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Economy

Treasury agency takes over more of Obama Senior untraced assets

Obama Senior with son Barack in an undated picture. FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP
Obama Senior with son Barack in an undated picture. FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

More properties belonging to Barack Hussein Obama, the father of the former US president, have been transferred to the Unclaimed Financial Assets Authority (Ufaa).

The authority, established in 2013, is holding East Africa Breweries Limited (EABL) shares of undisclosed value belonging to the family of Obama Senior — a former senior economic analyst at the Treasury who died in a car accident in 1982.

Records at Ufaa, which holds unclaimed assets in trust for the rightful owners, show that the EABL shares were transferred to it last year.

The agency has over the past two years been holding a life insurance cover that was never paid to Mr Obama’s beneficiaries upon his death, resulting in the transfer of the funds to the government.

The Obama life insurance of Sh55, 933 came to Ufaa’s custody in 2014 from the defunct Kenya National Assurance Corporation (KNAC).

Rightful owners

“We received more of Obama Senior’s assets. We are still waiting for the family to contact us for release of the benefits,” Kellen Kariuki, the chief executive officer of Ufaa, told the Business Daily in an interview Tuesday.

“The assets must be handed over to the rightful owners. The primary responsibility for assets reunification with the beneficiaries remains with the holder (companies like EABL),” she added.

Mr Obama had nominated his eldest son Roy Obama, also called Malik, and his youngest wife, Jael Otieno, as beneficiaries.

Obama Senior had four wives, two of whom he married while in the United States, and eight children.

Among the children is the former American president, from his marriage with Ann Dunham, whom he met while studying at the University of Hawaii in the US.

Following Mr Obama’s death, a fierce legal battle ensued over his estate, then estimated to have been worth Sh410,500.

The battle was mainly between his then former wife Kezia Obama and Jael.
Ms Kezia was the first wife and mother of Roy.

Defined period

Ufaa holds in trust cash held by companies for a defined period without any activity from the owner. It has been taking over unclaimed assets since 2014.

The list of assets classified as unclaimed includes bank accounts that have been dormant for more than five years, bankers cheques not cashed for two years and contents in safe deposit boxes unclaimed for more than two years.

Matured life insurance policies unclaimed for more than two years and shares whose dividends have not been collected for more than three years also qualify to be handed over to the agency.

The State-owned KNAC, which was put under receivership in 1996, handed over Sh348 million to the authority.

It is not clear why the corporation was not able to pay Obama senior’s beneficiaries given their prominence.

It is the responsibility of the holding company to search for the rightful owners of an asset before declaring it as unclaimed and forwarding it to the agency.

Most of the unclaimed assets are attributed to failure by the deceased to inform the beneficiaries of the asset and the absence of a will stating the same.

Obama Senior died at the age of 46 at a time when he is said to have been struggling with poverty having lost both his legs in two previous car accidents.

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