SportPesa Money Laundering: Kenya’s leading sports gaming site SportPesa is soup over allegations of money laundering. According to a report that appeared in a local daily, the firm is being probed over claims that it might have laundered over Sh. 30 billion.
The report says that the Financial Reporting Centre (FRC) is investigating SportPesa for possible money laundering in the wake of claims the sports betting firm wired $278 million (Sh. 30 billion) from its local accounts to offshore banks.
“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). It will also probe whether SportPesa paid taxes on the Sh. 30 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 report that appeared in the Business Daily said.
The report quoted the FRC Director-General Saitoti Maika saying that while moving money abroad is not necessarily illegal, FRC will seek to check if any laws were breached during this movement. “We emphasize that moving money offshore is not an illegality, our mandate is to establish if there were breaches in regards to cash movement,” he said.
This comes barely a week after it was revealed that Ronald Karauri is the major shareholder of Milestone Games Limited, the company behind the recent controversial and short-lived attempt to takeover SportPesa. Karauri is the chief executive officer of SportPesa.
Records at the Registrar of Companies show that Mr Karauri recently acquired a stake of 54.4 percent in Milestone through a series of investment vehicles. This makes him the majority owner in the new betting firm. Incidentally, he also owns a seven per cent stake in Pevans East Africa, which owns the SportPesa brand.
SportPesa owners under the Pevans East Africa company are having a bitter dispute over billions. The fight has local owners Paul Ndung’u and Asenath Wacera on one side and SportPesa’s Bulgarian owners with Ronald Karauri on the other side. At the heart of this fight is the allegation that Sh. 29.1 billion was transferred from the company’s accounts to overseas accounts without the approval of some owners. SportPesa Money Laundering.