Kenya freezes 6.2 billion shillings linked to Nigerian start-up Flutterwave



Kenya freezes 6.2 billion shillings linked to Nigerian start-up Flutterwave

Frozen money concept. FILE PHOTO | NMG

The Supreme Court has frozen more than 6.2 billion shillings in 62 bank accounts owned by Nigerian start-up Flutterwave and four Kenyans over fears they are proceeds of card fraud and money laundering.

The billions in accounts at Guaranty Trust Bank (GTB), Equity, EcoBank, KCB and the credit union have been frozen after the Assets Recovery Agency (ARA) requested that the transfer or withdrawal be blocked pending a request to forfeit the funds was sent to the government.

The agency said in court filings that its investigations found the money was transferred under the guise of payments for goods and services.

“That 1st Defendant’s bank accounts received billions in an alleged money laundering scheme and the same were deposited into various bank accounts to hide or disguise the nature, source, location, disposal or movement of said funds,” ARA said.

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“The transactions were made using cards issued by the same bank at the same time on the same day, raising suspicions of card fraud.”

According to investigators, Flutterwave accounts held Sh5.17 billion across 29 accounts at GTB, Equity and Eco Bank in Kenyan shillings, US dollars, euros and pounds sterling.

Flutterwave says on its website that it provides payment technology for merchants and processes payments over the internet, mobile phones, ATMs and points of sale worldwide.

The Supreme Court has also frozen ATS 467.1 million from Boxtrip Travels and Tours and ATS 436 million from Bagtrip Travels Ltd accounts.

The other accounts include Elivalat Fintech Ltd (Sh1.16 million), Hupesi Solutions (Sh1.6 million) and Cruz Ride Auto Ltd (Sh2.4 million).

An account under Simon Karanja Ngige, who is listed as a director of Cruz Ride Auto Ltd, has Sh14 million.

ARA understands funds were transferred from multiple countries to local Flutterwave bank accounts and then transferred to the six companies. The agency questions the source of the money sent to Flutterwave.

Court documents show that Flutterwave Payments Technology Ltd. is owned by Nigerians Olugbenga Agboola, Adeleke Christopher, Iynoluwa Samuel and Flutterwave Inc, which is registered in the United States with an office at 1323 Columbus Avenue, San Francisco.

A Kenyan – David Mouko Elizaphan Omaanya – is also a director but has no shares. The Nigerian company was founded in 2018 by Olugbenga Agboola and Iyinoluwa Aboyeji.

The court heard that Flutterwave received Sh12.4 billion in a single account at Equity Bank between November 2020 and this year, reflecting the outsized billions under management by the start-up.

The funds from the equity account were later transferred to Rem X Ltd owned by Nehikhare Eghosasere and Demuren Olufemi Olukunmi.

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Rem X Ltd is at the center of a separate money laundering case that saw the court freeze Sh5.6 billion in accounts in April.

Boxtrip Travel and Tours, registered by Enyioma Olufemi Madubuike, a Nigerian, received Sh$467.1 million from Flutterwave Payments Technology Ltd in two days, on April 27 and 28 this year, according to ARA.

ARA said no explanations or supporting documents were provided to support the transactions and therefore believes the accounts were used as channels to transport illicit cash.

“Further investigation determined that there is reason to believe that the funds are proceeds of crime obtained by the defendant from improper sources and must be retained pending the filing and hearing of a proposed motion for forfeiture.” the authority.

Bagtrip Travels Ltd. owned by Tofunmi Taiwo Soyemi received Sh436 million from Flutterwave and Rainbow Technology Solutions between April 28th and May 6th.

The agency says that Elivalat Fintech Ltd, whose directors are Jackson Mwangi Kamenju, a Kenyan, Palliser ltd and Tiwari Simon Adrian, received Sh 320.8 million in dollars between November 4, 2020 and April 14 this year. At the time of the seizure, the account had a balance of 1.16 million schillings.

Edguru Technology Ltd received Sh14.1 billion from Flutterwave Payments but only Sh99.8 million was frozen. According to ARA, its directors are Adeze Chinenye, a Nigerian, and Caroline Wanjiku Muchina, a Kenyan.

An online payment solutions company identified as Hupesi Solutions and owned by Kenyan Festus Mumo Mutuku received a total of Sh143.3 million.

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Of this amount Sh54.4 million was remitted to Flutterwave Payments while Sh45.6 million was remitted to GC Natural PL.

The account is just Sh1.6million and the state agency says transactions were made in tranches of less than Sh1million to break the CBK reporting threshold.

Cruz Ride Auto Ltd, registered as a car dealer, received Sh2.4 million from Flutterwave Payments Technology Ltd on June 6 and no explanation was given for the transaction, which was later transferred to Mr Ngige.

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