1,600 Safety Deposit Boxes In Kenyan Banks Have Not Been Claimed For Decades
Kevin Namunwa  |  Nov 2, 2020

Commercial banks all have 1,600 unclaimed deposit boxes that the plan to surrender by year-end if they are not claimed by then.

This provides a glimpse into the monetary value of the secret holdings popular with wealthy individuals. Most of the safety deposit boxes have not been opened for decades.

If they are not claimed by the end of the year, they will be jointly unlocked by bank officials and their counterparts from the Unclaimed Financial Assets Authority(Ufaa).

Ufaa chief executive John Mwangi confirmed the Authority received invitations from banks for the opening of the unclaimed safe boxes.

“We are keen at the activity that will see us take possession of what qualifies to be unclaimed financial assets from share certificates, jewellery, cash in local and foreign currency as well as mature insurance policies and travellers' cheques,” John Mwangi said.

Neither the Ufaa nor the financial institutions know the contents of the safe-deposit boxes.

It is a global trend for wealthy families to store precious jewellery, share certificates, treasury bills, company certificates, land title deeds, and security certificates in these boxes. Some individuals also keep large amounts of money in these boxes.

Mr Mwangi said banks will, however, be required to provide evidence of unsuccessful attempts to reach the owners of the safe-deposit boxes before their content are taken into Ufaa’s custody.

“Each lender must disclose efforts invested in tracing relatives of the dead or ailing safebox owners as our role is to publicise the information for Kenyans to come forward and claim the same,” he said.

Safety deposit boxes held by banks have been in the radar of the Central Bank of Kenya(CBK) since March 2019 when detectives impounded Sh2billion in fake currency stashed in one of them.

In a circular issued in May last year, the regulator issued a circular requiring each financial institution to verify the contents of the safe boxes as a way of curbing illegal dealings such as money laundering.


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