Lake Forest firm collects sizable windfall
Illinois State Treasurer Dan Rutherford (left) looks over the $8.1 million check for unclaimed assets owed to Tenneco Inc. of Lake Forest before presenting it to Tenneco Vice President John Kunz on Sept. 24. | Photo submitted
LAKE FOREST — Word spread like wildfire last week when Illinois State Treasurer Dan Rutherford presented Tenneco Inc. a check for $8.1 million, the biggest amount ever returned in the state’s unclaimed property program.
Tenneco Vice President Treasurer/Tax John Kunz accepted the check at the Tenneco headquarters in Lake Forest on Monday, Sept. 24, some six months after his office discovered the unclaimed property related to a business it bought in 1996.
Initially, Kunz had no idea how much the property was worth.
“Unclaimed checks are usually a few thousand dollars,” he noted.
All his office knew for sure was the check would be for more than $100.
In the state’s I-Cash program begun in 1999, there are three categories to search — “under $10,” “$10 to $100” and “over $100,” Kunz explained. “We’re only searching for ‘over $100,’” he said.
A month after the discovery of the 45 properties transferred on behalf of the Tenneco subsidiary, Pullman Co., Kunz’ office learned of the $8.1 million windfall.
Prior to last week, the biggest amount Kunz had ever seen returned on an unclaimed asset was $100,000. He doesn’t expect to see a repeat of the state’s highest return any time soon.
“It’s highly unlikely,” Kunz said. “All the circumstances had to line up for this to occur.”
Though the state treasurer traveled from Springfield personally to hand over the check to Tenneco in Lake Forest and news media covered the transfer, the event triggered little fanfare at the global manufacturer of emission and ride control products for the automotive industry.
“We didn’t have a party,” Kunz said. “We’re very prudent with our cash.”
And there are no big plans for the windfall amount. The $8.1 million will go into the company’s general fund, Kunz said.
“We won’t change our investment decision or financing decisions. We’ll just continue on the course we’ve been on,” he said.
Tenneco has annual revenues of $7.2 billion, according to its website.
Rutherford, however, used the Tenneco return as an opportunity to get the word out about unclaimed properties and encourage others “to check the I-Cash database to see if any unclaimed money or other assets are in their names,” he said.
To check for unclaimed assets, go to www.Icash.Illinois.gov.