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Kenya

UFAA opens online claims for disbursing unclaimed financial assets

NAIROBI, Kenya, Aug 17, The Unclaimed Financial Assets Authority (UFAA) is doing away with manual filing of claims to facilitate easier processing and disbursement of over Sh51 Billion worth of unclaimed financial assets in cash, stocks, and other financial assets.

In its place, an online system has been developed and deployed to facilitate filing, processing and disbursement of unclaimed financial assets to rightful owners and beneficiaries.

UFAA is also deploying an online holders’ reporting and surrenders system that will make it easier for holders to submit and surrender unclaimed financial assets in their possession.

And to further deepen reunification, the Authority is at advanced discussions with Huduma Kenya to roll out UFAA’s services at Huduma Centers and Huduma Mashinani across 47 counties in the country.

Disbursement of unclaimed financial assets has been growing steadily from a paltry Sh30 million in 2016 to Sh1.2 billion by June 2021.

As of June 2021, remittances from entities amounting to Sh20.3 billion had been received into the Unclaimed Assets Trust Fund. Reports had been made for 915 million units of shares valued at Sh30.5 billion. 2,873 unclaimed safe deposit boxes were also surrendered to the Authority.

UFAA’s Chief Executive Officer and Managing Trustee, John Mwangi, says the Authority is seeking approval of a National Policy on Unclaimed Assets that has recommended legal amendments of the Unclaimed Financial Assets Act, 2011, and Unclaimed Financial Assets Regulations 2016 to enhance disbursements.

Current legal frameworks have been cited as not favourable to claimants with low value claims which forms the bulk of unclaimed financial assets remitted to the Authority.

A recent customer survey report found that potential claimants are discouraged from lodging low-value claims on account of stringent documentations and authentication requirements as provided for in the Act and Regulations.

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“Procedure of obtaining UFAA’s services is considered complicated and cumbersome for claimants … especially a requirement to have all claim forms commissioned by lawyers,” the report noted.

“We have submitted a proposal to the National Treasury for the amendment of the Act and Regulations to address emerging reunification challenges experienced by the Authority over the years,” said John Mwangi.

He observes that upon amendment to the Act and Regulations, tracing and verification of assets owners and beneficiaries will be in tandem with feedback expressed by UFAA customers over the years. The proposal includes option for donation available to owners and beneficiaries.

The amendments further seek to shorten processes and requirements for verifying claimants and widen unclaimed assets categories to include loyalty points and emerging virtual currencies that are not currently expressly captured in the Act. Fraud mitigation and data security remains central to these amendments.

Mwangi notes that these measures will be matched by continuous public sensitization campaigns to create awareness about the mandate of the Authority to both holders and claimants.

 

 

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