A State agency charged with tracking illicit money is investigating SportPesa for possible money laundering in the wake of claims the sports betting firm wired $278 million (Sh30 billion) from its local accounts to offshore banks.
The Financial Reporting Centre (FRC) will seek to establish if the billions of shillings earned from the online betting craze in Kenya were declared to the gaming regulator, the Betting Control and Licensing Board (BCLB).
The agency will also probe whether SportPesa paid taxes on the Sh30 billion that is said to have been transferred to tax havens of Isle of Man, the Canary Islands as well as Dubai over a three-year period.
The fate of the billions of shillings has triggered a bitter fallout among the wealthy, politically influential Kenyans and Bulgarian investors who helped to found SportPesa.
Kenyan entrepreneurs Paul Wanderi Ndung’u and Asenath Maina, who own a combined 38 percent stake in SportPesa’s holding company Pevans East Africa, last month blew the lid on the shareholder wars that have been simmering since 2017 and the transfer of the billions of shillings to the offshore accounts.
“The matter is of public interest, and we will investigate to establish if there was criminality in the movement of the billions offshore,” said Saitoti Maika, the Director-General of FRC.Loading...
“We emphasise that moving money offshore is not an illegality, our mandate is to establish if there were breaches in regards to cash movement.”
Mr Ndung’u and Ms Maina claim SportPesa’s CEO Ronald Karauri and the foreign shareholders kept them in the dark on the firm’s operations since 2017, arguing that the transfer to offshore accounts happened after the fallout.
Mr Ndung’u says that Mr Karauri, who has a seven percent stake in Pevans, conspired with foreign investors holding a combined stake of 47 percent in the company to implement the controversial transactions.
Ms Maina, who controls a 21 percent stake in Pevans, has demanded a forensic audit on the company starting from 2015, a push that has been resisted.
“After persistent push, the management report indicated that within three years Pevans has transferred over $250 million (Sh27.3 billion) to various offshore accounts in Isle of Man, Dubai and Las Palmas/Canary Islands,” Mr Ndung’u said in an earlier statement.
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