The Unclaimed Financial Assets Authority (UFAA) has created an online system to help in the filing, processing, and distribution of unclaimed financial assets such as cash, stocks, and other assets. The Authority expects the new online method to speed up the processing and distribution of about Ksh. 51 billion in unclaimed financial assets.
The UFAA is also launching an online holders’ reporting and surrenders system, which will make it easier for holders to report and surrender unclaimed financial assets. To facilitate reunification, the Authority is in talks with Huduma Kenya about implementing UFAA’s services at Huduma Centers and Huduma Mashinani across Kenya’s 47 counties.Unclaimed financial assets payouts have continuously increased from a paltry Ksh. 30 million in 2016 to Ksh. 1.2 billion by June 2021.
The Unclaimed Assets Trust Fund had received remittances from entities totaling Ksh. 20.3 billion as of June 2021. There were reports of 915 million units of shares for Ksh. 30.5 billion.
The Authority also received 2,873 unclaimed safe deposit boxes.
Mr. John Mwangi, the UFAA’s CEO and Managing Trustee, said the Authority is seeking approval of a National Policy on Unclaimed Assets, which includes legal modifications to the Unclaimed Financial Assets Act, 2011, and the Unclaimed Financial Assets Regulations 2016, to improve disbursements.
Claimants with low-value claims, which make up the majority of unclaimed financial assets returned to the Authority, have been criticized for the current legal frameworks.
According to a recent customer survey, potential claimants are discouraged from filing low-value claims due to the Act’s and Regulations’ strict paperwork and verification requirements.
The report highlighted that the “procedure for acquiring UFAA’s services is regarded difficult and cumbersome for claimants,” particularly the need that all claim forms be commissioned by lawyers.
“We have presented to the National Treasury a proposal to change the Act and Regulations to meet increasing reunification difficulties that the Authority has faced over the years,” Mr. John Mwang stated.
He points out that, once the Act and Regulations are amended, the tracing and verification of asset owners and beneficiaries will be in line with UFAA customers’ input over the years. The proposal provides a contribution option for both owners and beneficiaries. These amendments keep fraud prevention and data security at the forefront.
Mr. Mwangi adds that these steps would be accompanied by continuous public awareness campaigns to raise awareness of the Authority’s mandate among both holders and claimants.