State Treasurer Lynn Fitch has transferred over half a million dollars into the State’s General Fund. The $580,024.87 are a result of proceeds from a court-established fund in a court case known as Tennille v. Western Union.
“Over the course of the past year, we worked with attorneys, in this case, to return as much money as possible to our State’s unclaimed property,” said Fitch. “For those funds, we will search out the rightful owners and return their money to them, as we have with over $95 million in unclaimed property since I took office. These remaining funds, however, were specifically set aside by the court for the State and I am pleased to transfer them to our General Fund.”
In a letter to the Legislature accompanying the transfer, Fitch explained the case saying the Tennille case was brought by individuals against Western Union, alleging that certain incomplete transactions were not returned to the rightful owners. While Mississippi was not a party to the case, in the settlement agreement, the federal court approved what is known as a cy pres fund, from which monies were proportionally directed to the states and specifically deemed not subject to unclaimed property escheatment laws.
“By returning the money to the General Fund, without further direction by the Legislature, it will be split between the State’s Rainy Day Fund and Capital Expense Fund, pursuant to our State budget laws,” said Fitch, “So, I am pleased that our work, in this case, will both promote fiscally conservative budgeting and support important infrastructure projects across Mississippi. I have also asked the Legislature to consider doing as several other states have done with their cy presfunding and direct a portion to financial education, as well, since financial literacy issues were at the heart of Tennille.”
Returning unclaimed property and improving financial literacy have been two of Treasurer Fitch’s highest priorities as Treasurer. During her tenure, aggressive outreach for unclaimed property has resulted in distribution during her seven years in office of more than half of all the unclaimed property distributed since the program began in 1982.