This is definitely not the best time for Flutterwave, Nigeria and indeed Africa’s most capitalised financial technology startup.
On Wednesday, a high court in Kenya directed that all bank accounts belonging to Flutterwave and other companies linked to money laundering be frozen.
The decision was after Kenyan Asset Recovery Agency (ARA) told the court that the accounts were used as conduits for money laundering and not for merchant services claimed.
“Investigations established that the bank accounts operations had suspicious activities where funds could be received from specific foreign entities which raised suspicion. The funds were then transferred to related accounts as opposed to settlement to merchants,” said the Agency.
The companies affected were Flutterwave payment technology limited, Boxtrip travel and tours limited, Bagtrip travel limited, Elivalat fintech limited, Adguru technology limited, Hupesi solutions, Cruz ride auto limited and one Simon Ngige.
The court documents showed Flutterwave was registered on February 23, 2017 in Kenya. Its directors were listed as Olugbenga Agboola, David Mouko (Kenyan) and Flutterwave Inc.
Flutterwave operated 29 bank accounts with Guaranty Trust Bank, 17 with Equity Bank and 6 with Ecobank.
The Agency says the company’s account received billions of shillings and the same was deposited in different bank accounts in an attempt to conceal the nature, source or movement of the funds.
In an affidavit, Isaac Nakitare, an investigator with the agency says they obtained orders on April 4 this year to search and inspect the accounts.
Nakitare says by the time he obtained the orders, the accounts at Guaranty Trust bank belonging to Flutterwave had a balance of Sh5.3 billion, Sh1.4 billion at Equity bank and other millions at Ecobank.
Some of the funds he said were transferred into fixed deposit accounts.
The Agency further established that Flutterwave was concealing the nature of its business by allegedly providing a payment service platform without authorization from the central bank of Kenya as required by section 12 of the national payment system act.
The accounts he said were used as conduits for money laundering in the guise of providing merchant services.
“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,” he said.
Flutterwave Denies Any Wrongdoing
On Thursday, Fluttwave denied any wrongdoing and described claims of financial improprieties involving the company’s operations in Kenya as false.
In a statement released by Wendy, the company’s head of communication, Flutterwave said it receives payment through its various financial institution partners and makes those payments on behalf of merchants and corporate entities on its platforms.
The statement reads, “Claims of financial improprieties involving the company in Kenya are entirely false, and we have the records to verify this.
“Through our financial institution partners, we collect and pay on behalf of merchants and corporate entities. In the process we earn our fees through a transaction charge, records of which are available and can be verified. As a business, we hold corporate funds to support our operations and provide services to all our customers.
“By facilitating payments for the biggest organizations in the world and everyday businesses, we process significantly large volumes of money and contribute to growing the economy in Kenya, and the rest of Africa.
“We are a financial technology company that maintains the highest regulatory standards in our operations. Our Anti-money laundering (AML) practices and operations are regularly audited by one of the big 4 firms. We remain proactive in our engagements with regulatory bodies to continue to stay compliant.
“Flutterwave has a responsibility to ensure the integrity of the ecosystem, and we pledge our commitment to continue to work with all stakeholders to uphold this. We are working to figure out the motive behind the publication, and have the records straightened.”
Leatherback Set for International Growth as EFCC Drops all Fraud and Misconduct Allegations
Nigeria’s Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has dropped all allegations of fraud and misconduct against Leatherback, a leading financial services technology company, and the company’s CEO, Toyeeb Ibrahim Ibitade.
In November 2023, EFCC announced that it had been made aware of the possibility of fraudulent activities on the Leatherback platform, leading to an investigation into the company’s operations to establish the facts. Cooperating fully with EFCC and working transparently with the organisation’s officials to provide a forensic view of its operations, Leatherback was able to unequivocally prove its innocence, leading the EFCC to drop all allegations and take down all previous communications on its website and social media platforms (Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter) around the matter.
Leatherback supported the EFCC investigation by making over 5,000 printed documents available to officials to enable as much clarity as possible. Leatherback also filed Suspicious Activity Reports (SARs) in the UK and Nigeria.
According to Toyeeb Ibrahim Ibitade, CEO of Leatherback, “I am relieved to see the end of this arduous episode, but I am even more delighted to see that myself and Leatherback, as an organisation, have been completely cleared of all wrongdoing. With this episode firmly behind us, we are poised to accelerate our mission to provide a single access point that empowers individuals and businesses to be truly global, delivering best-in-class financial, payment, and commerce solutions that remove barriers to global growth and mobility for all citizens of the world.”
Headquartered in London, Leatherback is regulated in the United Kingdom, Nigeria, Ethiopia, Canada, India, Pakistan, Nepal, and Sri Lanka, enabling the platform to serve customers across a wide range of markets effectively. Tens of thousands of individuals and businesses already use the platform to support business and lifestyle opportunities every day. Leatherback is also FCA Authorised, PCI DSS Compliant, and ISO Certified.
Leatherback offers financial services to businesses and individuals in multiple countries with no restrictions. Users can access up to 15 currencies from 21 countries, including NGN, GBP, INR, EUR, USD, and many other currencies. Users can also send and collect money locally and internationally, with invoicing, analytics, and permissions features available for businesses.
For more information, please visit: http://www.leatherback.co
Carbon Acquires Vella Finance to Enhance SME Offerings
Digital financial services provider Carbon has completed the acquisition of Vella Finance, a Nigerian fintech company specializing in serving small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).
The acquisition, announced through an official statement on Wednesday, signifies Carbon’s strategic move to bolster its SME offerings.
Although the financial details of the transaction were not disclosed, Carbon’s acquisition of Vella Finance, founded two years ago under its parent company, One Credit Limited, underscores its commitment to expanding its footprint in the fintech space.
Vella Finance’s expertise in AI-powered SME banking solutions particularly caught the attention of Carbon.
Through this acquisition, Carbon aims to leverage Vella Finance’s innovative technology to provide actionable insights from financial transactions to its SME customers.
Tolu Adedayo, co-founder and COO of Vella Finance, expressed enthusiasm about the integration, noting that several team members from Vella Finance have joined Carbon following the acquisition.
Adedayo further revealed that Vella Finance’s 8,000 SME customers would be transitioned to Carbon Business in the near future.
Chijioke Dozie, co-founder of Carbon, emphasized the alignment of values and vision between Carbon and Vella Finance, highlighting the potential for synergies and growth in the SME banking segment.
The acquisition marks a significant milestone for both companies as they aim to revolutionize financial services for SMEs in Nigeria.
Flutterwave Set to Recover ₦19 Billion Illegally Transferred by POS Merchants
Flutterwave, one of Africa’s leading fintech companies, is poised to undertake a substantial recovery effort following a High Court ruling granting it the authority to recover ₦19 billion illegally transferred by Point of Sale (POS) merchants.
The company plans to contact over 6,000 account holders across 35 banks and financial institutions to reclaim the funds.
The dispute arose in 2023 when Flutterwave discovered unauthorized transactions conducted by certain POS device merchants, prompting the temporary suspension of implicated accounts to prevent further irregularities.
While the incident didn’t result in the loss of customer funds, it exposed the vulnerability of the system to abuse.
A recent court ruling, known as a Mareva injunction, empowers Flutterwave to initiate the recovery process, targeting account holders who may have received funds from the unauthorized transactions.
This move is critical as the recipients may have already utilized the funds received.
In response to the court order, Flutterwave intends to engage with the relevant authorities to address the situation comprehensively.
It plans to communicate with the affected account holders through email, SMS, and WhatsApp messages, leveraging their respective contact information provided by the financial institutions involved.
The recovery effort underscores Flutterwave’s commitment to upholding financial integrity and protecting the interests of its customers.
The company’s proactive stance reflects the evolving challenges faced by fintech firms in ensuring secure and transparent transactions amidst the dynamic landscape of digital finance in Africa.
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