Stock of unclaimed assets hits Sh10.5bn in three years

The Unclaimed Financial Assets Authority (UFAA) has accumulated Sh10.5 billion in cash over the last three years that has not been claimed, Parliament has been told.

The Unclaimed Financial Assets Authority CEO Kellen Kariuki. FILE PHOTO | NMG  

IN SUMMARY

  • The figure includes assets worth Sh8.53 billion that have been snubbed by mainly the rich families.
  • UFAA has 1,100 safe deposit boxes that have not been opened and whose contents are unknown.
  • The agency is also holding 440 million units of unclaimed shares.

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The Unclaimed Financial Assets Authority (UFAA) has accumulated Sh10.5 billion in cash over the last three years that has not been claimed, Parliament has been told.

That figure includes assets worth Sh8.53 billion that have been snubbed by mainly the rich families.

Kellen Kariuki, UFAA chief executive told the National Assembly’s Public Investments Committee (PIC) that the agency has 1,100 safe deposit boxes that have not been opened and whose contents are unknown.

The agency is also holding 440 million units of unclaimed shares.

“We are equally holding a small number of unit trusts that has been surrendered to us by financial institutions over a period of three years,” Ms Kariuki told Mvita MP Abdulswamad Nassir-chaired committee.

Unclaimed assets include money in bank accounts, which have been dormant for more than five years, bankers cheques not cashed and contents in safe deposit boxes unclaimed for more than two years.

Others are life insurance policies unclaimed for more than two years and shares whose dividends have not been collected for more than three years.

Ms Kariuki told MPs that money in dormant bank accounts unclaimed for two years must be surrendered to UFAA while employee wages that lie unclaimed should be surrendered after a year. She said the assets category varies between one and five years.

Ms Kariuki appeared before the PIC during the scrutiny of the UFAA books of accounts for financial years 2015/16 and 2016/17.

Auditor General Edward Ouko, who hired PriceWaterhouseCoopers to audit the UFAA books of accounts for the two financial years, returned unqualified or clean audit opinion.

The Public Audit Act 2015 allows Mr Ouko to hire private audit firms to audit public entities or State agencies on its behalf.

Mr Nassir demanded to know why Mr Ouko had decided to outsource audit services for the UFAA, a state corporation.

“Why would the auditor hire a private entity to audit assets of unknown persons that run into billions of shillings? How will we know if there could be collusion to hide some of the assets which are unclaimed?” he asked.

Ms Kariuki said the decision to hire external audit services lies with the Auditor General. “We have an internal auditor and we fully comply with the highest standards of accountability,” she said.

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