About two million Kenyans have their money idle in an account at the Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) as unclaimed assets.
The Unclaimed Financial Assets Authority (UFAA) says about 60 companies have so far surrendered Kshs. 3.3 billion.  “The money is at the CBK in a trust account.  We have so far invested in government securities”, UFAA Chief Executive Officer Ms. Kellen Kariuki said in Nairobi during a media briefing.
Ms. Kariuki said only Kshs.32 million has been claimed to date.  The authority is planning an awareness and sensitization campaign to encourage beneficiaries collect their money.

Kenya Commercial Bank has surrendered the highest amount – having given in excess of Kshs.700 million.  Safaricom gave the highest number of accounts, handing over money for 1.5 million account holders.  “We have about Kshs.176 million from Safaricom and we have as little as Kshs.1 in unclaimed M-Pesa accounts,” she said.  The highest amount is about Kshs.500,000 belonging to a single individual.
The authority says it has put the names of beneficiaries on its websites for their relatives and next of kin to query and file for claims.
“We are waiting for Parliament to pass a regulation that will regularize the payment.  This is the reason we are yet to pay any claim so far.  But the fact that some people have started filing for claims so that they are getting aware of the existence of the authority”, Ms. Kariuki added.
UFAA estimates that Kshs.100 billion is yet to be submitted from companies but it will do an audit to get an exact amount of money.  “In the past, companies were holding on this money and it would act as capital.  The main challenge is to get records of the beneficiaries”, she said.
Assets covered by the Unclaimed Financial Assets Act, of 2011 include bank cash balances, cheques, insurance policies, utility deposits, court awards and credit or safe deposits boxes abandoned for between two to five years.
The authority says it is facing the uphill task of reuniting the money with the beneficiaries because in the past, most people only left postal addresses.
This is unlike new when banks have a stringent know your customer policy.  There are also instances where people kept their financial information away from their spouses or did not inform their beneficiaries.
A survey by the Unclaimed Property Asset register found that insurance firms hold 25 per cent of unclaimed funds.  Other major holders of idle assets are pension funds and public listed companies.
The list of unclaimed assets include 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 are also listed as unclaimed assets.
Upon receiving the assets, the authority’s mandate is to search for the legal owners of the assets or heirs where they are deceased.

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