The laws of unclaimed moneys in Papua New Guinea (PNG) are found in the Unclaimed Moneys Act 1963.  This piece of vintage legislation dates back to pre PNG independence.  In my view the Act should be updated to reflect PNG's actively expanding modern economy.

Will the Unclaimed Moneys Act apply to my business?

The Act applies to any of the following:

  1. PNG incorporated companies;
  2. Registered foreign companies; and
  3. Firms (such as individual partnerships).

If you fall into any of the above categories and have unclaimed dividends, bonuses, profits, salaries, interest or wages which:

  1. are over K10 (about AUD $4); and
  2. have remained unpaid for 12 months or more,

then you are required by PNG law to keep a register of unclaimed moneys.  The register needs to be in the prescribed form and kept at the principal office or place of business in PNG[1]

What needs to be done and when?

Each entry in the register must be advertised by the company or firm in the National Gazette.  Advertising is required during March in each year.  There is also a requirement to:

  1. lodge a copy of all the entries in the register to the Registrar of Unclaimed Moneys; and
  2. allow any person inspection of the register.  

If there has been no advertisement then there is still a requirement to provide a statement to the relevant authority[2].  The statement needs to go together with payment of any unclaimed moneys.  All unclaimed moneys will then be placed in an account called the Unclaimed Moneys Fund.

Non-compliance

Failure to comply with the provisions of the Act constitutes an offence whereby monetary penalties will be applied.

Conclusion

Being aware of the legal and regulatory compliance issues facing your business should reduce operational risk and potential claims.  If in doubt you should always speak to a PNG admitted lawyer to discuss regulatory compliance issues.