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.

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