The Treasury has taken over Deputy President William Ruto and Nasa co-principal Kalonzo Musyoka’s idle cash in public listed companies after the two politicians failed to claim ownership.
The Unclaimed Financial Assets Authority (UFAA) picked Mr Ruto’s unclaimed cash from telecoms operator Safaricom #ticker:SCOM after he failed to collect dividends accruing from his shares in the company.
Mr Musyoka’s dormant fortune was picked from Standard Chartered Bank #ticker:SCBK, KCB #ticker:KCB and Co-operative Bank #ticker:COOP.
The law requires companies to hand over to the State different categories of idle assets whose owners have not claimed for up to five years.
UFAA has reported taking over the two politicians’ financial assets in its latest filings, but did not specify the amounts. All seized assets are held in the Trust Fund account at the Central Bank of Kenya (CBK).
The duo joins a growing list of prominent people, including former presidents Daniel arap Moi and Mwai Kibaki, the father of former US President Barack Obama and late Interior secretary Joseph Nkaisserry, whose idle assets have been surrendered to the State.
“We will notify them to make claims since it’s their cash,” UFAA chief executive Kellen Kariuki said Monday, adding that the families of Obama, Kibaki and Nkaisserry have since lodged claims for the assets and that the authority was in the process of releasing them.
Former President Moi’s family is, however, yet to claim his assets even after the information was widely circulated in the local press.
Seizure of assets belonging to prominent people has brought to question the process of their surrender to the State – which is only allowed after the entity holding the assets has made a deliberate effort to find the rightful owners but failed.
It’s not clear whether Mr Musyoka’s unclaimed cash lies in dormant bank accounts or in shares of the three listed banks. Ms Kariuki on Monday said UFAA has been reuniting Kenyans with their assets through increased correspondence and awareness campaigns.
UFAA has put the names of beneficiaries on its websites for relatives and next of kin to query and file claims.
“We are now moving towards mobile phone claims application and processing to simplify the process,” said Ms Kariuki.
The funds claim process takes between a week and 30 days with the lowest processed claim being Sh42, according to the agency.
“It’s your money, even if you lodge a Sh10 claim, we will process it and give you your Sh10,” said Ms Kariuki.
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.
It is the responsibility of a company to search for the rightful owners of an asset in its custody before declaring it as unclaimed and forwarding it to the UFAA.
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.
The total value of unclaimed assets surrendered to the State in cash stood at Sh8.73 billion as of June, a Sh51 per cent growth in the past year from Sh5.8 billion in June 2016.
UFAA usually invests the cash in Treasury bonds which offer fixed returns, eliminating the risk of deterioration of value as it waits for beneficiaries to lodge claims that are vetted before payment can be processed.
The State-owned agency said it has processed and paid out about Sh37.7 million to 419 claimants out of the 3,039 lodged claims valued at Sh139.6 million.