Recently, a visibly weary Ronald Karauri tried to revive the popular betting brand, now banned SPORTPESA, using a proxy firm-Milestone Games Limited- where he had acquired massive shares.
According to the Registrar of Companies’ records, the SportPesa CEO Ronald Karauri recently acquired an effective stake of 54.4 percent in Milestone through a series of investment proxies.
If the short-lived Karauri’s trickery to bring back SportPesa through Milestone had succeeded, SportPesa partners under Pevans East Africa would have been left like cockroaches salvaging on a shell company.
Why is Karauri running away from the company he used to brag that he would die for it? Karauri, who owns a 7% percent stake in Pevans is in a bitter fallout with other shareholders over allegations of transfer of Sh29.1 billion from the SportPesa’s coffers to overseas accounts and sale of shares in Pevans East Africa.
The Business Daily reports that Karauri, who attempted to revive a gaming brand that had enslaved millions of lazy, quicky money brainwashed mentality and needy Kenyan youths had been joined by Francis Waweru Kiarie, who has acquired an effective 40.9 percent stake in Milestone.
Birds of a feather flock together indeed as records indicate that Waweru Kiarie, the 1% stakeholder at the banned Pevans East Africa is also linked siphoning the firm which operated SportPesa in Kenya.
Karauri who was at the helm of the disastrous firm whose licence was frozen over an unpaid tax bill of Sh15.1 billion- wanted to not only bypass set rules but also evade paying taxes by applying to the Betting Control and Licensing Board (BCLB) to operate the SportPesa brand in what would have given them access to a database of more than 12 million customers and valuable domains.
— Consumer Grassroots (@Consumers_Kenya) October 31, 2020
Last Friday, Karauri took to social media to announce that Sportpesa brand had returned on Kenyan Markets but under a new BCLB licence holder.
However, the enthusiasm was shortlived after BCLB announced that Milestone’s authorisation to operate under the SportPesa brand was an error.
“We note that Milestone Games Limited has been authorised to use the trademark SportPesa by M/s SportPesa Global Holdings Limited whereas during the 2020/2021 financial year renewal application the board authorised the use of trading name Milestone Bet to yourselves. According to information in our possession, the trade name SportPesa belongs to M/s Pevans East Africa Limited,” the regulator wrote to Milestone.
The Business Daily reports that Karauri and Kiarie own Milestone through a chain of two investment vehicles— Selenium Limited and NOB Five Limited. Karauri owns a 57.1 percent stake in Selenium Limited that has a 96 percent interest in NOB Five, which in turn holds a 99.5 percent equity in Milestone. He is listed as a director and shareholder of Selenium.
On the hand, Kiarie has a 42.8 percent stake in Selenium, leading up to an effective interest of 40.9 percent interest in Milestone.
According to the records, Milestone’s two direct shareholders and directors are NOB Five and little-known Wilson Ngatia Karungaru, who has a 0.5 percent ownership in the gaming firm.
The bitter fallout of shareholders of Pevans East Africa was revealed by Paul Wanderi Ndung’u, who owns a 17 percent stake in Pevans who claimed that Milestone was attempting to run away with SportPesa brand, customers and gaming infrastructure.
“That just like the rest of the Kenyan public, I came to learn of the resumption of SportPesa business through the social media at 9 p.m. on Friday. That the company Milestone Games Limited, its shareholding ownership whether through proxies, trustees or otherwise is unknown to me,” he said in an earlier statement.
Mr Ndung’u also alleged that Karauri had teamed up with the foreign investors in Pevans and Sportpesa Global to sideline other Kenyan shareholders, dilute their stakes and wire Sh29.1 billion out of the country. He says they were excluded from buying additional shares in SportPesa Global, resulting in their dilution in the UK-based firm.
While poverty and unemployment wallop Kenyan youths, wealthy and politically well-connected investors are secretly flooding it in the country. By the way, it’s not clear how or when Karauri and Kiarie took control of Milestone, which was previously owned 50 per cent by President Uhuru’s nephew James Muigai Ngengi.
I have to, also note that Peter Kihanya Muiruri, a cousin of the President, recently emerged with a one percent stake in Pevans and a 0.5 percent equity in Sportpesa Global.
“I am not sure this is a 1st April Fool’s day notice joke. It’s a sham and shame that today’s board meeting, whose notice is four and half hours the main agenda is to remove Kenyan directors –specifically Paul Wanderi Ndung’u due to effects of Covdi-19 so be it,” Mr Ndung’u protested in a letter to Mr Beighton who organised the board changes.
In April this year, Karauri bagged huge after he was installed at the centre of Sportpesa’s local and global operations where he dines with his American and Bulgarian counterparts that are linked to money laundering and international cybercrimes.
Sportpesa Global’s new board, for instance, was slimmed down and now consists of directors Adam Beighton, Kalina Karadzhova and Ronald Karauri.
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