The High Court has frozen financial assets of Nigerian payment solutions firm Flutterwave amounting to Ksh6.2 billion spread in 62 bank accounts.
In a case filed by the Assets Recovery Agency (ARA), the firm, alongside four Kenyans are accused of conducting suspicious transactions and failing to comply with financial regulations in Kenya. The money is suspected to b proceeds of card fraud and money laundering.
“That the 1st Respondent’s bank accounts received billions in a suspected scheme of money laundering and the same deposited in different bank accounts in an attempt to conceal or disguise the nature, source, location, disposition or movement of the said funds,” said ARA.
“The transactions were done using cards issued by the same bank, at the same point, on the same day, raising suspicion of card fraud.”
The money is held at several accounts in the Guaranty Trust Bank (GTB), Equity, EcoBank, KCB and Co-operative Bank.
Flutterwave accounts had Sh5.17 billion in 29 accounts at GTB, Equity and Eco Bank in Kenya shillings, US dollars, Euros and Sterling pounds.
Among the amounts frozen include Ksh467.1 million belonging to Boxtrip Travels and Tours, Ksh436 million in Bagtrip Travels Ltd accounts, Ksh1.16 million for Elivalat Fintech Ltd, Hupesi Solutions (Ksh1.6 million), Cruz Ride Auto Ltd (Ksh2.4 million). Simon Karanja Ngige, a director of Cruz Ride Auto Ltd, has Ksh14 million.
Investigations into Flutterwave began several months ago, and authorities obtained warrants to seize the firm’s accounts in April. The provisional seizure permit was granted for 90 days, and the matter will be heard on November 7.
Flutterwave is owned by Olugbenga Agboola, Adeleke Christopher, Iynoluwa Samuel and a company registered in the US, Flutterwave Inc.
Mr Agboola and his partners in Nairobi are accused of conducting about 185 online card payments using the same identification number.
“If indeed the Flutterwave was providing merchant services, there was no evidence of retail transactions from customers paying for goods and services. Further, there is no evidence of settlements to the alleged merchants,” Kenyan prosecutors added.
In a text message to Peoples Gazette, Mr Agboola suggested the charges were politically motivated.
“Why are Nigerian companies in Kenya being targeted by Kenya ARA?” Mr Agboola said. “This is happening near their election time.”
ARA said there was no explanation or supporting documents provided to support the transactions and, therefore, believes the accounts were used as conduits for moving illicit cash.
“Further investigations established that there are reasonable grounds to believe that the funds are proceeds of crime obtained from illegitimate sources by the respondent which require to be preserved pending the filing and hearing of an intended forfeiture application,” the agency submitted.
Elivalat Fintech Ltd whose directors are Jackson Mwangi Kamenju, a Kenyan, Palliser ltd and Tiwari Simon Adrian received Ksh320.8 million in dollars between November 4, 2020, and April 14, this year. At the time of the freezing order, the account had a balance of Ksh1.16 million.
Edguru Technology Ltd received Ksh14.1 billion from Flutterwave Payments but only Ksh99.8 million has been frozen. Its directors, according to ARA, are Adeze Chinenye, a Nigerian and Caroline Wanjiku Muchina, a Kenyan.
An online payment solutions company identified as Hupesi Solutions owned by Kenyan Festus Mumo Mutuku received a total of Ksh143.3 million.
From the amount, Ksh54.4 million was transferred to Flutterwave Payments, while Ksh45.6 million was transferred to GC Natural PL.
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