Thursday, November 15, 2012

Delaware Launches New Voluntary Disclosure Agreement Website

Earlier this summer, Delaware created a new voluntary disclosure agreement ("VDA") process run by the Secretary of State's office, separate from the sometimes criticized program run by the Department of Finance.  Under the Secretary of State program (which is temporary) holders who come forward by June 2013 (and pay outstanding amounts by June 2014) will only have to review records back to 1996.  Holders who come forward by June 2014 (and pay by June 2015) will only have to review records back to 1993.  The VDA program run by the Department of Finance generally runs back to 1991.

Recently, the Secretary of State's office launched DelawareVDA.com, which appears to be a one-stop resource for holders considering entering into the new amnesty program.  There is an impressive amount of information available on the site, from an extensive overview of the VDA process, links to the governing legislation, forms, FAQs, and a list of upcoming educational seminars. 

Putting extensive information concerning a state's unclaimed property amnesty program in one place, in a simple easy to use format should not be a novel concept, but it is.  Kudos to Delaware for taking this step.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Reminder: California Reports Due Tomorrow for Holders Impacted by Hurricane Sandy

As we mentioned last week, in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy may states extended their unclaimed property reporting deadlines (which, in most states, fell on 10/31 or 11/1).  For those of you affected, just a reminder that California's extended deadline expires tomorrow. 

Friday, November 9, 2012

Lost & Found: PA Webinar, IA Auction, Australia Amendments

Pennsylvania to Host Unclaimed Property Webinar -- The Pennsylvania Treasury Department is hosting a free unclaimed property webinar on November 28th.  The Department will provide insight on identifying unclaimed property, reporting to the state, and how to develop effective policies and procedures.  There will also be a live Q&A session.  Registration information is available here.  The seminar also provides CLE credit for Pennsylvania attorneys.

Iowa to Auction Unclaimed Property -- Add Iowa to the list of states offering to sell unclaimed property via auction.  Yesterday, the Iowa State Treasurer's Office announced that it would run its first eBay unclaimed property auction from November 26th to December 3.  The auction is open to all US residents, and the items up for auction can be viewed here.

Australia Considers Unclaimed Property Law Changes -- The Australian Parliament is considering a bill that will shorten the dormancy period for property held by banks and other financial institutions under the Banking Act of 1959.  A summary of the proposed legislation can be foundhere.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Meet Your New Escheators! (Actually, say "Hello Again")

In case you missed it (owing, no doubt to the total lack of media coverage) yesterday was Election Day.  While most news focused upon the notable federal elections, there were also seven races to elect executive officials responsible for administering state unclaimed property programs.  In every case, the incumbent will continue on the job: 

Indiana -- Greg Zoeller was reelected as the Attorney General of the State of Indiana.  In Indiana, the AG's office is responsible for that state's unclaimed property program.

Missouri -- Clint Zweifel was reelected as Missouri State Treasurer.  Treasurer Zweifel is no stranger to these pages, as he was the subject of our first "Meet Your Escheator" interview.

North Carolina -- Janet Cowell was reelected State Treasurer.

Pennsylvania -- Rob McCord was reelected State Treasurer.

Utah -- Richard Ellis was reelected State Treasurer.

Vermont -- Beth Pearce was elected to her first full term as State Treasurer (though she was already serving as a result of an executive appointment).

West Virginia -- John Purdue was reelected State Treasurer.

Best of luck to all of them.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Kenya Finds Out that Administering Unclaimed Property Laws is Trickier Than it Seems

Kenya's attempt to implement a U.S.-style unclaimed property law is well into its second year.  Kenya began the process of becoming the first African country with a custodial unclaimed property act of general application in Spring, 2011.  After considering the concerns of citizens and holders, the law was passed in December of 2011.

Notwithstanding the passage of more than 10 months from the law's passage, Kenya's government is finding out that the devil is in the details.  Now, according to an article on allafrica.com, the Kenyan Finance Ministry is having trouble staffing the entity that will be charged with administering the act -- the Unclaimed Financial Assets Authority.  According to the article, the entity should be established soon.

Notably, the comments of Assistant Finance Minister Oburu Odinga make explicit something that most U.S. states try to downplay:  namely, that a significant rationale (if not the primary one) for unclaimed property laws is to raise money for the state.  The article quotes Odinga, as stating that the unclaimed property law "is a cheap way of raising money on our side rather than letting this money lie in the banks."  Though the implementation of the act has taken longer than anticipated, at least the Kenyan Finance Ministry gets points for honesty.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Fall Reporting Extension Information

We're back after a Hurricane Sandy induced hiatus; we hope that you and your families are safe, sound and warm. 

The fall unclaimed property reporting deadline in many states was on October 31 or November 1.  Obviously, the storm and its aftermath have interfered with that process. The National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators has prepared a detailed matrix of information concerning Hurricane Sandy related extensions and how to request them.