Editorials

EDITORIAL: Put more effort into tracing beneficiaries of idle assets

treasury

Former Vice-President Kalonzo Musyoka, ex-Cabinet minister Simeon Nyachae, the late Bomet Governor Joyce Laboso and late First Lady Lucy Kibaki are among the list of prominent Kenyans whose funds have helped swell the unclaimed assets fund. FILE PHOTOS | NMG

Summary

  • What is not clear is how much effort the holding companies put into tracing the rightful owners or beneficiaries of the stocks before declaring them idle assets.
  • The law requires the companies to search for the rightful owner of an asset before declaring it unclaimed and forwarding it to the UFAA.
  • Some of the shareholders mentioned are prominent people in society and public officers still in service who can be accessed easily.

The Unclaimed Financial Assets Authority (UFAA) has given the owners of more than 800 million shares up to the end of August to claim them or risk losing them to the State.

The said shares worth Sh26 billion have already been surrendered to the Treasury as idle assets after a number of companies holding them reported them unclaimed.

Most of the assets, now in the custody of the UFAA, have been surrendered by public listed firms, insurance companies, banks, pension schemes, legal firms, telecoms operators and saccos, among others.

The shares targeted for sale are those whose owners have failed to participate in corporate actions for at least three years.

Others are the subject of inheritance fights in the courts, meaning the beneficiaries don’t have a valid will or letters of administration conferring authority over the assets.

Still, the UFAA attributes many unclaimed assets to the fact that their owners did not inform the beneficiaries before they died.

What is not clear is how much effort the holding companies put into tracing the rightful owners or beneficiaries of the stocks before declaring them idle assets.

The law requires the companies to search for the rightful owner of an asset before declaring it unclaimed and forwarding it to the UFAA.

PROMINENT PEOPLE

Some of the shareholders mentioned are prominent people in society and public officers still in service who can be accessed easily.

It is important that companies play their role by identifying owners before taking this drastic measure.

The State also has a role to play. Six years since its inception, there is generally low awareness about the UFAA and its enormously important functions among Kenyans.

The authority said that many Kenyans remain disinterested in pursuing funds legally belonging to them or their families.

The UFAA should educate the public and create awareness on how to claim the funds.