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Unclaimed dividend bill before the National Assembly, public hearing fixed for Wednesday

A bill for an act to   establish the     unclaimed dividends and abandoned property Trust Fund charged with the responsibility for identifying and maintaining database of unclaimed dividends, abandoned property and investments in banks, financial institutions and public companies in Nigeria and for related matters, 2010

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Provisions of the Bill
BE IT ENACTED by the National Assembly of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as follows:
Establishment of the Unclaimed Dividend and Abandoned Property Trust Fund 1._(1) There is established the Unclaimed Dividend and Abandoned Property Trust Fund (in this Bill referred to as “the Fund”) into which shall be paid_ (a) unclaimed dividends; (b) abandoned bank deposits; and (c) unclaimed or abandoned_ (i) money or cheques, money order, travellers’ cheque, drafts, deposits, interests, dividends, (ii) security deposit, refund, credit balance, unpaid wage or salary or unpaid wage or salary or unidentified remittances, (iii) security certificate or other evidence of ownership of an interest in a business organisation, (iv) bond, debenture, note or other evidence of indebtedness, (v) money deposited to redeem shares, bonds, coupons or other securities, (vi) an amount due or payable under the term of an annuity or insurance policy, and (vii) an amount distributable from a trust or custodial fund established under a plan to provide education health, welfare, severance, share purchase, profit sharing, employee savings or benefits.

The Fund_
(a) shall be a body corporate with perpetual succession and a common seal; (b) may sue or be sued in its corporate name; and (c) may hold or dispose of movable and immovable property.

2. Establishment and composition of the Governing Board
(1) There is established for the Fund a Governing Board (in this Bill referred to as “Board”). (2) The Board shall consist of_ a) a chairman; (b) a representative each of the_

(i) Federal Ministry of Finance, (ii) Corporate Affairs Commission, (iii) Securities and Exchange Commission, (iv) Share holders Association of Nigeria, (v) Central Bank of Nigeria, (iv) the six geopolitical zones, and (c) the Director_General.

(3) Members shall_ (a) hold office for a term of four years and may be eligible for reappointment
for further term of four years only; (b) be appointed by the President on the recommendation of the Minister; and (c) be paid such remuneration and allowances as obtained in the Public Service of the
Federation.

Cessation of membership.
(1) A member shall cease to hold office if he_ (a) becomes of unsound mind; (b) becomes bankrupt or makes a compromise with his creditors; (c) is convicted of a felony or any offence involving dishonesty;

(d) commits serious misconduct in relation to his duties; or (e) is involved in any corrupt practice.
4. Removal of a member of the Board (1) A member of the Board may be removed from office by the President if he is satisfied that it is not in the interest of the Fund or the interest of the public that the member continues in that office. (2) Where a vacancy occurs in the membership of the Board it shall be filled by the appointment of a successors to hold office for the remainder of the term of his predecessor and the successors shall represent the same interest.

5. Functions of the Board: The Fund shall_ (a) maintain database of unclaimed dividends abandoned property and investments; (b) identify all unclaimed dividends and abandoned property in banks, financial institutions, and public companies; (c) carry out public enlightenment on unclaimed dividends and abandoned property; (d) pay to owners of the unclaimed dividends and abandoned property recovered from banks, financial institutions and public companies; (e) approve participating banks that deal with the Fund; (f) inspect and examine books and records of banks, financial institutions and companies in Nigeria covered by this Bill; (g) invest the monies in the Fund in viable companies; (i) receive all unclaimed dividends and abandoned property; (ii) carryout any other activity that is connected with the objects of this
Bill; and (iii) maintain a website with database of all unclaimed or abandoned property.

6 Appointment of the Director_General and his functions: (1) There shall be for the Fund a Director_ General who shall_ (a) be appointed by the President; (b) be the Chief Executive Officer responsible for the day _to_ day administration of the Fund; (c) be the Secretary of the Board; (d) possess skills and 15 years cognate experience and knowledge in tax administration and financial management; and (e) hold office for a period of 5 years in the first instance and may be eligible for reappointment for a further term of 5 years only and on such terms and Conditions as to emoluments condition, of service as may be Specified in his letter of appointment.

(2) The Director-General shall, subject to the general Control of the Board, be responsible
for-(a) keeping records of proceedings of the Board; (b) implementing the policies and decision, of the Board; and (c) the direction and Control of other employees of the Fund.

(3) The Fund may-(a) employ either directly or on transfer or secondment from any civil or public service in the Federation such number of employees as may in the opinion of the Board. be required

to assist the Board and the Director_General in the discharge of their functions under this Bill; and
(b) pay such remuneration (including allowances) as the Board may with the approval of the National.   7 Salaries Income and Wages Commission determine. Pensions Act No. 60 of 2004

(1) Service in the Fund shall be approved service for the purpose of the Pension Reform Act. 2004 and accordingly. Staff and employees of the Fund shall be entitled to pension and benefit as prescribed under that Act. (2) Without prejudice to the provisions of subsection (1) of this section, nothing in this Bill shall prevent the appointment to any office on terms which prelude the grant of pensions and benefits in respect of that office. (3) For the purpose of the application of the Provisions of the Pension Reform Act any Power exercised by the Minister or other authority of the Federal Government, is vested in, and shall be exercised by the Fund.

8 Financial provisions(1) The Fund shall establish and maintain an account to be known as investment account into which shall be Paid in the following (a) all Outstanding unclaimed dividends held by public companies or dissolved public companies and their agents declared within 30 years preceding the commencement of this Bill; and (b) all abandoned and dormant bank deposits and investments within 30 years proceedings the commencement of this Bill.  (2) The Fund shall establish and maintain a fund which shall consist_ (a) such sum as may, from time to time, be provided by the Federal Government for the running of the expenses of the Fund; (b) interest and returns on investment of recovered dividends and abandoned deposits; (c) such fees as may be determined by the Fund; and (d) such other sums as may accrue to the Fund either in the execution of its functions under this Bill or in respect of any property vested in the Fund.

9 Application of funds: The Fund may, from time to time, apply the proceeds of the monies Application of funds established in section 8 (2) of this Bill to_ (a) meet the cost of administration of the Fund; (b) reimburse members of the Board or any committee set up by the Fund the expenses authorized or approved by the Fund; (c) the payment of salaries, fees or other remunerations, allowances and pension payable to members and employees of the Fund; (d) the maintenance of any property acquired by or vested in the Fund; (e) all or any of the functions of the Funds under this Bill or any matter connected with those functions.

10 Power to accept gifts
The Fund may accept gifts, grants or donations of land or other property from any person or organization upon such terms and conditions as may be specified by the person or organisation making the gift or donation provided that such terms and condition are not inconsistent with the functions and objectives of the Fund.

11 Annual estimate account and audit (1) The Fund shall not later than 30th September in each year, submit to the President an estimate of its expenditure and income (including estimates of expanded payments into the Fund and audit. estimates of expended payments into the Fund) during the next succeeding year. (2) The Fund shall keep proper account in form which conforms to accepted accounting standards and proper records related to it. (3) The account of the Fund shall be audited at the end of each calendar year by auditors appointed from the list and in accordance with the guidelines supplied by the Auditor_ General of the Federation and the fees of auditors and expenses shall be paid from the funds of the Fund.

12 Annual Reports: The Fund shall, not later than six months after the end of each preceding year, submit to the Minister annual reports and shall include in the report the audited account of the Fund and the comments thereon.

13 Power to borrow: The Fund may, from time to time, borrow otherwise, such sums as it may require for The performance of its functions. Who must report 14. The holder of unclaimed dividends and abandoned property_ (a) shall report to the Fund the existence of such property within six calendar months; and (b) may apply to voluntarily declare a property as unclaimed or abandoned property before the period specified under this Bill.

15 Limitations of suit Cap. P41 LFN, 2004: The provisions of the Public Officers Protection Act shall apply in relation to any suit instituted against any officer or employee of the Fund. (2) A suit shall not be commenced against a member of the Board, the Director_General or employee of the Fund before the expiration of a period of one month after written notice of intention to commence the suit shall have been served upon the Fund by the intending plaintiff or his agent. (3) The notice referred to in subsection (2) of this section shall state the _ (a) course of action; (b) particulars of the claim; (c) name and place of abode of the intending plaintiff; and (d) relief which he claims.

16 Service of documents: A notice, summons or other document required or authorized to be served upon the Fund under the provisions of this Bill or any other law or enactment may be served by delivering it to the Director_General at the principal office of the Fund.

17 Restriction on the execution against property of the Fund (1) An execution or attachment of process shall not be issued against the Fund in any action or suit without the consent of the Attorney_General of the Federation. (2) A judgment sum awarded against the Fund by a court of competent jurisdiction shall, subject to any direction given, be paid from the proceeds of the Fund.

18 Indemnity of officers
Member of the Board, the Director_ General, any officer or employee of the Fund shall be indemnified out of the assets of the Fund against any proceeding, whether civil or criminal, in which judgment is given in his favour, or in which he is acquitted, if any such proceeding is brought against him in his capacity as member of the Board, Director-General, officer or employee of the Fund.

19 Prescribed dates for payment and Penalty for non-payment
19.-(1) The Board shall, from time to time by notice served by registered post on the particular company or bank concerned, specify the date on which any unclaimed dividend or abandoned bank deposit due from that company or bank shall be paid to the Fund. (2) If any sum is not paid within 21 days of the specified date, a sum equal to ten percent of the amount unpaid shall be added for each month or part of a month after the date on which would have been made.

20 Offences and Penalties: 1) A person who fails to comply with this Bill commits an offence and is liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding N500,000. (2) A person who_ (a) knowingly or recklessly furnishes, in pursuance of any requirement made under this Bill, any return or information which is false in any material particular; or (b) willfully makes a false entry in any record required to be produced under that section with intent to deceive or makes use of any such entry which he knows to be false commits an offence and is liable on conviction a fine not exceeding N500,000.00 or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding five years or both.

(3) Where an offence under this Bill is committed by a body corporate and it is proved to have been committed with the consent or connivance of, or to be attributed to any neglect on the pan of any director, manager, secretary or other similar officer of the body corporate (or any person purporting to act any such capacity) he, as well as the body corporate, shall be deemed to be guilty of the offence and may be proceeded against and punished accordingly.
21 Regulations The Board may, with the approval of the Minister, make regulations to give effect to the provisions of this Bill.

22 Interpretation: In this Bill _ “Member” means a member of the Board and includes the Chairman; “Minister” means the Minister responsible for finance; “Property” includes_ (a) residual property from businesses (corporation, societies and cooperatives) stock from the corporate registry; (b) property of persons who died with no known heirs or address; or (c) property remaining unclaimed after 5 years and these assets become the property of the Fund for onward remittance to the beneficiary any day he emerges; “Public companies” means public companies within the meaning of the Companies and Allied Matters Act; and 23 Citation : This Bill may be cited as the Unclaimed Dividends and Abandoned Property Trust Fund
(Establishment Etc.) Bill, 2009.

EXPLANATORY MEMORANDUM
This Bill seeks to establish the Unclaimed Dividends anc. Abandoned Property Trust Fund to
take over and administer unclaimed and abandoned property lying idle in companies.
The Public Hearing is for 24-25 November 2010.


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