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  Flutterwave, a Nigerian fintech company, has been acquitted of money laundering charges that were made against it by the Kenyan Asset Recovery Agency (ARA) seven months ago. The charges resulted in a freeze of around $56.7 million in the company’s account. The withdrawal of the charges has been confirmed by Robert Gitau, a lawyer representing Flutterwave.
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The fintech firm faced several controversies in 2022, including the allegations made by the Kenyan regulator, ARA, which claimed that their investigation had found suspicious activities in Flutterwave’s bank account operations, involving the transfer of funds to related accounts instead of merchants. The Kenyan Asset Recovery Agency (ARA) also accused Flutterwave of running a payment service platform without proper authorization. This was supported by the Central Bank of Kenya in July 2022, when its governor stated that Flutterwave was not authorized to operate as a remittance provider or payment service provider in Kenya. At the same time, the Deputy Director of Bank Supervision, Matu Mugo, issued a directive to all financial institutions in Kenya to stop doing business with Flutterwave.
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In a statement, Flutterwave stated that they have been working closely with the Central Bank of Kenya to meet all requirements and are eagerly waiting for their license. The fintech firm had reportedly applied for a Payment Service Provider license in 2019. Despite the fraud allegations, Flutterwave maintained that the claims made by ARA of financial misconduct were untrue.

“Politically Motivated” Allegations?

 In an interview with People Gazette, Agboola stated that the allegations made against Flutterwave were politically motivated. He questioned why Nigerian companies in Kenya were being targeted by the Kenyan Asset Recovery Agency (ARA) and suggested that it was happening at a time close to their elections. At the time, media reports speculated that ARA’s allegations against Flutterwave and other Nigerian fintech were due to the relationship between Alexander Ezenagu, the son-in-law of the then Vice President, Williams Ruto, who later won the Kenyan presidential elections in August 2022, and these accused companies.
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In August 2022, a Nigerian journalist, David Hundeyin, tweeted that if Williams Ruto won the Kenyan election, which was looking likely, the court case against a specific fintech company would coincidentally be removed from the priority list or quietly dropped, citing the relationship between Alexander Ezenagu and the accused companies. Flutterwave declined to comment on this matter.
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This article was first published on 7th February 2023

nnaemeka-emmanuel

Nnaemeka is an academic scholar with a degree in History and International Studies from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka. He is also a creative writer, content creator, storyteller, and social analyst.


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