, NAIROBI, Kenya, Jan 10 – The Ministry of Finance has promised to ensure the integrity and credibility of the recently gazetted members of the Unclaimed Assets Authority board, before it starts operations.
The ministry’s economic affairs deputy director George Omino said Finance Minister Njeru Githae has the power to “remove any member of the board if he or she is convicted of an offence involving dishonesty or fraud; or otherwise unable or unfit to discharge his or her functions” according to the Unclaimed Financial Assets Act.
He however said the ministry will also not allow politics to be dragged and interfere with the board before and even after it begins work which he said is expected in two months time.
“Remember the authority will be dealing with assets that belong to some people who were not able to trace them or even some died. So there must be sanity from the word go. And I believe the minister is very keen on that,” Omino told Capital FM Business.
Last month, the Media Owners Association complained that some of the members needed to be scrutinized once more by the minister claiming that they lacked integrity.
The board members gazetted on November 16 last year include Abdijhani Abdirahman Haji Abass, Charles Nduati, Asha Ndisyon Ngoley, Eric Orina and Vincent Kimutai Kimosop.
The ministry also plans to set more regulations that will strengthen the governance of the authority, which were not included in the Act.
“One of functions of the authority is to administer the provisions of the Act. For example they will start with the establishment of a fund that will now collect the unclaimed assets. They will also put effort in looking for and making payments to the rightful owners,” Omino said.
Other issues to be addressed before the authority starts its operations are getting an office and also the appointment of the Chief Executive Officer.
However Omino said the appointment of the CEO may take long hence the ministry will have to appoint an officer in an acting position.
The ministry says most of the companies; especially the banks holding the unclaimed assets estimated at Sh200 billion should also make efforts to trace the owners before handing over assets to the authority, even in future.
If the authority does not succeed in getting the owners, they automatically become public assets.
Dividends paid by listed companies, bank deposits and insurance claims form the bulk of these assets.
An unclaimed asset is intangible or tangible property that has been abandoned or lost by its rightful owner for an extended amount of time.