Unclaimed Money and Missing Money

Posted by puguh on Monday, January 3, 2011

Unclaimed Money and Missing Money. You have question about unclaimed money, treasurydirect.gov, treasury direct? We found articles about it. I hope can give you information. At the end of December 2009, approximately 1,122,000 unclaimed balances, worth some $395 million, were on the Bank’s books. Over 93.4% of these were under $1,000.00, representing 30.82% of the total value outstanding. The oldest balance dates back to 1900.

Common types of unclaimed property include:
Bank accounts and safe deposit box contents
Stocks, mutual funds, bonds, and dividends
Uncashed checks and wages
Insurance policies, CD’s, trust funds
Utility deposits, escrow accounts

In lieu of the repayment of $551,000 in public funds, the state of Wisconsin will get 1,528 acres in prime natural land with an appraised value of $3.2 million instead.

On Dec. 22, the Natural Resources Board cast a unanimous 6-0 vote to accept a transfer from West Wisconsin Land Trust of eight parcels of land in Dunn, Chippewa, Pepin, Pierce, Polk and St Croix counties. Had the board refused, WWLT may well have faced bankruptcy.

A program audit of a $1 million North American Conservation grant — received in 2006 and administered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service — revealed that the Menomonie-based land trust was unable to account for the missing half million dollars.

About half of the federal funds were supposed to go to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) for the purchase of five parcels of land that would complement land acquired by WWLT. The land trust, however, never made that payment.

Positive solution

“I think the DNR realized when this all unraveled ... that the land trust wasn’t likely to have those kinds of cash assets and suggested the possibility of looking at land instead,” said Jane Prohaska, WWLT interimdirector.

Last July, Executive Director Rick Gauger left the organization, followed by Associate Director Edith Kadlec in August.

“The DNR had previously raised some concerns about the same grant, but before the FWS had stepped in, the board had been working with Gathering Waters and with the Land Trust Alliance to bring some consultants in to do an organization-wide assessment both of program and organization policies and procedures,” Prohaska explained. “It was a very serious and in-depth assessment and showed that there were some weaknesses in the systems, and I think those were the red flags that led to the change in leadership. And then following that, we found some other problems as well.”

Examination of the trust’s books also unveiled the possible misuse of the organization’s credit card, a matter that was turned over to the Menomonie Police Department last fall.

“We found that we didn’t have all of the credit card statements that we should have had in the office and ordered them from the credit card company to get duplicates,” Prohaska said. “When we went through them, we found a number of charges that didn’t seem to be related to business. That’s when we turned this matter over to the MPD. We felt that that was the right thing to do for the community and let the law enforcement take that process in the direction they think it should go.”

On Friday, Investigator Dave Pellett said the department’s investigation has been completed, and the matter has been turned over to the Dunn County District Attorney’s office for possible charges.

Chosen lands

Originally founded in 1988 to slow the loss of farms and farmlands, WWLT’s mission is to conserve “all types of natural areas, including forests, wetlands, rivers and lakeshores, bluffs and prairies.”

Prohaska and the land trust staff recently sat down with DNR representatives to review the portfolio of lands owned by WWLT to identify properties that would be a good fit for the agency.

“Might be adjacent to lands they already own, might be a valuable asset for public use that could get better use in DNR ownership than in land trust ownership,” Prohaska said. “We worked our way through all of those and identified a suite of projects that the DNR was interested in and that had significant value in terms of being able to mitigate against the debt that we owe the DNR.”

Among the parcels identified is a public access to the Red Cedar River via a backwater near Cedar Falls referred to by locals as “The Cut-off.” Two sites in Chippewa County — Hawk Metals Marsh and Larrabee Lake — are included, as well as the scenic bluff overlooking Lake Pepin known as Maiden Rock.

Moving forward

Prohaska, an attorney, is well qualified to help WWLT get back on track. For 17 years, she worked with the Nature Conservancy, followed by 10 years as president and executive director of the Minnesota Land Trust.

“I had stepped down from that position just over a year ago now and was doing some other consulting work and research projects,” Prohaska said. “I had heard of some of these concerns over here in Menomonie, and I happen to know the board chair and happen to know that the consultants that the board had been working with on some of the organizational assessment work. ... They asked if I would help out for a bit and it seemed like an interesting challenge — and it has certainly been that.”

Now that the land transfer has been approved, she plans to help the land trust set up the internal procedures needed to ensure a stable and sustainable future. The board originally envisioned Prohaska’s involvement to be a three- to six-month commitment.

“We still have a little bit of work ... in doing some strategic planning thinking about what the future ought to look like, and the idea is I would be around until more permanent decisions were made about what the future might look like,” she said. “I think it turned out to be a little more complicated than the board thought back in August.”

Despite its recent challenges, Prohaska said WWLT remains true to its mission.

“We are committed to doing what’s right by the land that we’ve already protected and that’s the reason we take these past problems so seriously,” she concluded. “The importance of the work has not diminished. It’s important to have a strong conservation organization here in this part of the state, and I think ... that’s one of the reasons DNR wanted to work with us. They’re anxious to have that same result.”

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