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Secret lives push ceded unclaimed assets to Sh40bn

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Unclaimed Financial Assets Authority (Ufaa)
Unclaimed Financial Assets Authority (Ufaa) chief executive Kellen Kariuki. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

Kenyans have handed to the government Sh40 billion in cash and securities that no one is able to claim.

This is because many people hardly disclose their monetary worth and ownership of physical assets thereby creating a smooth one-way avenue for private money stashed in banks, insurance companies, saccos, unclaimed salaries and royalties, among others, to be ceded to the government.

As at November 4, the Unclaimed Financial Assets Authority (Ufaa) said it was holding Sh13 billion in interest earning accounts and securities valued at about Sh40 billion whose owners could not be traced.

“Our work is to re-unite this money to its lawful owners and urge Kenyans to check our website (www.ufaa.go.ke) whether any of them, ailing senior or deceased relatives are owners of this cash,” said Ufaa’s acting chief executive Caroline Chirchir.

Ms Chirchir said the funds could triple in value once valuables held in 1,451 safeboxes were opened and their contents valued before being auctioned to raise money to offset storage and costs incurred when breaking the safeboxes as well as repairing them.

It is mostly affluent Kenyans who use safeboxes owned by banks, saccos and insurance companies to stash away cash in various foreign denominations, title deeds, firearms, jewellery, share certificates among other valuables that they are unwilling to keep at home or within reach of their spouses or relatives.

The National Council of Churches of Kenya Deputy secretary-general Nelson Makanda said churches were trying hard to make couples embrace ‘oneness’ in all aspects of their matrimonial life.

“Once a couple weds, we entrench the principle of oneness in all aspects of their lives. They jointly bear children, raise them up and own properties. Even on matters finances, we insist, plans on investments and savings must be jointly made,” he said.

This, he observed, helped reduce wastage of the deceased’s estate during litigation as parties pursue succession matters.

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“But some people are wayward and decline to write a will while alive for fear of disclosing their ‘wayward ways’. Some people appear to be living perfect lives only for the truth to emerge upon their death that they ran parallel families that now want a share of their estate,” he said.

Dr Makanda hailed Nairobi Baptist Church move to establish a support department that counselled couples, men and women during fellowship meetings on the need to prepare a will.

Former Nyahururu Deputy Mayor Jonah Gicheru says most people (men and women) fear disclosing the entirety of their wealth as it could lay a basis for properties’ subdivision in case of a successful divorce case. He said others fear their family members could conspire to eliminate them to inherit their property.

The four-term civic leader said he supported ongoing campaigns by religious leaders that spouses must share all information about their properties (wealth) especially land, securities, cash in banks and any other form of wealth that has monetary value.

“Some people believe writing a will is akin to a premonition of one’s death but that is a fallacious costly belief that has made many wealthy families to languish in poverty as they lack information on their relatives’ wealth,” he said.

Ufaa has for the past three years posted names of claimants on their website ufaa.go.ke as well as sponsored radio and television sensitisation campaigns.

“The campaigns are starting to bear fruit since Sh327 million has been returned (paid out) to 5,871 claimants. We are also working out on more claims that we plan to disburse soon,” said Chirchir.

The CEO said a new a text-based USSD number based platform *361# had also been launched allowing one to search for information on a loved one’s cash or other financial assets using an analogue phone.

The Sh13 billion held by Ufaa in a trust account at Central Bank of Kenya is enough to turn the Nairobi-Nakuru-Mau Summit highway into a six lane superhighway.

Ms Chirchir said financial institutions surrendered another Sh2.85 billion at the end of the reporting period on November 1.

The Sh2.85 billion is enough to build the 22-floor twin tower owned by University of Nairobi that cost Sh2.3 billion and furnish it.

Last November, she said some 100 million shares of an unknown value were handed over by stockbrokers after they remained unclaimed for the last two years.

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World Bank pushes G-20 to extend debt relief to 2021

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World Bank Group President David Malpass has urged the Group of 20 rich countries to extend the time frame of the Debt Service Suspension Initiative(DSSI) through the end of 2021, calling it one of the key factors in strengthening global recovery.

“I urge you to extend the time frame of the DSSI through the end of 2021 and commit to giving the initiative as broad a scope as possible,” said Malpass.

He made these remarks at last week’s virtual G20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors Meeting.

The World Bank Chief said the COVID-19 pandemic has triggered the deepest global recession in decades and what may turn out to be one of the most unequal in terms of impact.

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People in developing countries are particularly hard hit by capital outflows, declines in remittances, the collapse of informal labor markets, and social safety nets that are much less robust than in the advanced economies.

For the poorest countries, poverty is rising rapidly, median incomes are falling and growth is deeply negative.

Debt burdens, already unsustainable for many countries, are rising to crisis levels.

“The situation in developing countries is increasingly desperate. Time is short. We need to take action quickly on debt suspension, debt reduction, debt resolution mechanisms and debt transparency,” said Malpass.

ALSO READ:Global Economy Plunges into Worst Recession – World Bank

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Kenya’s Central Bank Drafts New Laws to Regulate Non-Bank Digital Loans

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The Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) will regulate interest rates charged on mobile loans by digital lending platforms if amendments on the Central bank of Kenya Act pass to law. The amendments will require digital lenders to seek approval from CBK before launching new products or changing interest rates on loans among other charges, just like commercial banks.

“The principal objective of this bill is to amend the Central bank of Kenya Act to regulate the conduct of providers of digital financial products and services,” reads a notice on the bill. “CBK will have an obligation of ensuring that there is fair and non-discriminatory marketplace access to credit.”

According to Business Daily, the legislation will also enable the Central Bank to monitor non-performing loans, capping the limit at not twice the amount of the defaulted loan while protecting consumers from predatory lending by digital loan platforms.

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Tighter Reins on Platforms for Mobile Loans

The legislation will boost efforts to protect customers, building upon a previous gazette notice that blocked lenders from blacklisting non-performing loans below Ksh 1000. The CBK also withdrew submissions of unregulated mobile loan platforms into Credit Reference Bureau. The withdrawal came after complaints of misuse over data in the Credit Information Sharing (CIS) System available for lenders.

Last year, Kenya had over 49 platforms providing mobile loans, taking advantage of regulation gaps to charge obscene rates as high as 150% a year. While most platforms allow borrowers to prepay within a month, creditors still pay the full amount plus interest.

Amendments in the CBK Act will help shield consumers from high-interest rates as well as offer transparency on terms of digital loans.

SEE ALSO: Central Bank Unveils Measures to Tame Unregulated Digital Lenders

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Scope Markets Kenya customers to have instant access to global financial markets

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NAIROBI, Kenya, Jul 20 – Clients trading through the Scope Markets Kenya trading platform will get instant access to global financial markets and wider investment options. 

This follows the launch of a new Scope Markets app, available on both the Google PlayStore and IOS Apple Store.

The Scope Markets app offers clients over 500 investment opportunities across global financial markets.

The Scope Markets app has a brand new user interface that is very user friendly, following feedback from customers.

The application offers real-time quotes; newsfeeds; research facilities, and a chat feature which enables a customer to make direct contact with the Customer Service Team during trading days (Monday to Friday).

The platform also offers an enhanced client interface including catering for those who trade at night.

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The client will get instant access to several asset classes in the global financial markets including; Single Stocks CFDs (US, UK, EU) such as Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Netflix and Google, BP, Carrefour;  Indices (Nasdaq, FTSE UK), Metals (Gold, Silver); Currencies (60+ Pairs), Commodities (Oil, Natural Gas).

The launch is part of Scope Markets Kenya strategy of enriching the customer experience while offering clients access to global trading opportunities.

Scope Markets Kenya CEO, Kevin Ng’ang’a observed, “the Sope Markets app is very easy to use especially when executing trades. Customers are at the heart of everything we do. We designed the Scope Markets app with the customer experience in mind as we seek to respond to feedback from our customers.”

He added that enhancing the client experience builds upon the robust trading platform, Meta Trader 5, unveiled in 2019, enabling Scope Markets Kenya to broaden the asset classes available on the trading platform.

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