Mozzart Bet Kenya is under the radar of Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA), Directrorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI)’s Serious Economic Crime and National Intelligence Services (NIS) for aiding the movement of illicit finances in the country.
Saša Krneta, the firms Country Manager using a close-knit team of three others, a Zimbabwean (Emmanuel Charumbira) and two Serbian nationals (Loncar Koviljka and Melentijevic Branimir) has fooled wananchi that gambling is a good thing; going around gifting communities with cheap money, veiled as Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) but in real sense doing money laundering.
Krneta’s charm offensive is enabled by the industry regulator, the Betting Control and Licensing Board (BCLB) looking the other way.
The man boasts of pocketing BCLB MD Peter Mbugi.
To pull off the money laundering schemes, Mozzart bet owners have some briefcase firms, one of which is Open Skies Management, with working bank accounts where money is deposited to fool financial systems that legitimate business is taking place.
This is the second stage of money laundering known as layering, whereby the source of the money through a series of transactions and bookkeeping tricks. The other two steps are placement and integration into the normal financial system.
In the final step, integration, the now-laundered money is withdrawn from the legitimate account to be used for whatever purposes the criminals have in mind for it.
This is where it gets interesting folks.
Mozzart Bet has been on a Public Relations overdrive over the past year. Kenyans have seen pictures of officials from the betting firm distributing goodies in the community.
Among the counties that have benefited from its donations include Nakuru, Siaya, Kisii, Embu, Nyandarua, Baringo, Bomet, Kisumu, Kakamega and Kitui. It has also provided water to residents of Imbo village in Homa Bay county by drilling boreholes.
A simple search on google reveals all the beneficiaries of Mozart’s CSR.
However, the problem with this Frank Ochieng masterminded PR drive is that some of the goods donated do not match the money they say has been used to purchase them.
In some of the aforementioned counties, Mozzart Bet has donated mostly to hospitals, things such as crank beds, patient monitors, oxygen concentrators, bedside carts, Macintosh mattresses and other essential materials.
Sources add that some of the equipments donated are not functioning being second hand refurbished ones and frequently breaking down. It is further appalling that once the equipment were donated, the firm rarely sends personnel to fix them since they are known to be in poor conditions as they are living them to rot.
It is from the briefcase firm’s accounts that the money to ‘buy’ such donations come from. It is not easy to flag these as illegitimate payments.
This plot has worked well to buy the silence of the githeri (mainstream) media as they benefit from coverage and adverts from the betting firm.
It is a perfect cover up for dirty deals.
An expose carried out in the past about the questionable source of money that Mozzart bet uses made Kenyans shun the betting site, this led to the new gimmick.
One of the biggest PR gimmicks is the sponsorship of Kakamega Homeboyz FC to the tune ofSh20 million.
Krneta is a public shy guy whose true colors are know when cutting underground deals. He is ruthless, unforgiving womanizer too.
The other protection these criminals get is from former Member of Parliament Musa Sirma who co-owns the firm.
Anytime authorities close in on their dirty deals, Musa often scare them away by mentioning Baringo Senator Gideon Moi’s name.
The firm has also been caught once or twice lying about Jackpot winners. Krneta’s fimris said to manipulate computers with wanton abandon since he has pocketed BCLB.
The firm has used winner’s privacy clause to announce fake winders in its multimillion shillings jackpots. Sourcesd intimate that the faceless Nakuru man who won Sh10 million in jackpot from a stake of Sh50 was a fake.
The public bought into it because the firm explained that the winner wantred his privacy from family and friends to enjoy his windfall in peaceful quite. It was a congame.
This is was made so as to attract gamblers who had left the site after revelations of money laundering. The faceless congame is also done to ensure the public did not make a followup to establish whether he existed or not.
Mozzarbet hit the headlines recently after the High Court froze over Sh300 million belonging to a businessman who received more than Sh500 million from it in what was flagged as a suspicious case of money laundering.
The firm that set up its operations in 2017 has since March 2020 when the Covid-19 hit the country been dishing out millions of shillings.
In his ruling, Justice James Wakiaga ordered the preservation of the funds held at Diamond Trust Bank and Cooperative bank, belonging to Kimaco Connections Ltd and Pescom Kenya Ltd, whose directors are former MP the late Peter Kiilu and Consolata Kiilu.Banking industry players are questioning why Central Bank of Kenya is not investigating the said institutions on money laundering grounds as it happened with the infamous National Youth service scam payments that saw anumber of banks being fined .
The court heard that Kimaco Connections received Sh576 million from Mozzartbet Kenya and Sh95 million from a software firm, Open Skies, which is owned by a Zimbabwean that is also a shareholder in the betting firm. Kimaco Connections later wired Sh242 million to the accounts Open Skies Management, in what was alleged by authorities as a suspect transaction.
Investigations by Assets Recovery Agency showed Mozzartbet received Sh641 million in a period of three months. Of the amount, Sh384 million was through paybill number 311372 and the funds were later distributed to several companies, including Open Skies. Further investigations revealed that Emmanuel Charumbira, who owns Open Skies Management, is also a director of Mozzartbet Kenya and Mozzartbet Africa. The agency said the transactions constitute snuffing and layering of funds in money laundering scheme, to conceal the movement of cash. And despite receiving the amount, Kimaco Connections filed nil returns to evade paying tax.
According to court documents, Branimir received Sh12.8 million from Kimaco while Sirma was given Sh17.2 million from Pescon Kenya.
The directors’ bank accounts and M-Pesa paybill linked to Kiilu and Kimaco Connections were used as conduits of money laundering.
To polish up its image, Mozzart Bet has been rolling out programmes to help vulnerable groups. Last December, the firm donated Sh1.5 million to the Kayole 1 Health Centre in Nairobi and also made another donation of Sh10 million worth of Personal Protective Equipment to front line professionals, medical equipment to the Ngara Health Centre, Chemolingot Sub-County Hospital in Tiaty, Mathare North Health Centre, Kahawa West Health Centre each worth Sh1.5 million while the Pumwani Maternity and Mama Lucy Kibaki hospitals each received donations worth Sh3 million.
The firm also made a donation worth Sh10 million towards support of efforts in combating Covid-19 in Baringo country. The PPE donation came at a time government hospitals faced challenges protecting health workers on the frontline fighting the novel disease. While handing over the donation to the Council of Governor’s chair governor Wycliffe Oparanya alongside other leaders, Sirma thanked Mozzartbet for playing its part as a non-governmental partner in the fight the virus.
Mozzartbet marketing manager Frank Ochieng is the brains behind the current publicity gimmick. Krneta replaced Goran Vulcovic as the first country representative who was seconded to Kenya by Mozzartbet Serbia. The firm to lure Kenyans and easily launder millions of shillings has invested heavily on online and manual gambling, betting of live games, virtual ones and lottery is part of the scheme.
According to an insider, top managers are well paid compared to other low cadre ones. We could not establish if it is true that apart from tax evasion, the betting firm does not remit statutory dues to National Social Security Fund, the National Hospital Insurance Fund and Paye as You Earn as required by the law.
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