Milestone Games Limited, the company through which SportPesa attempted a return to the Kenyan market, is seeking the imprisonment of Betting Control and Licensing Board (BCLB) officials.
The company wants senior officials jailed for six months for cancelling its license on December 4, 2020.
SportPesa CEO Ronald Karauri announced the company’s short-lived return via a now famous tweet before BCLB cancelled the Milestone license barely a day later.
Milestone was to operate the SportPesa brand, giving it access to a database of over 12 million customers.
The BCLB argues that Milestone’s license was cancelled in line with relevant regulations after the company changed its shareholding structure without seeking relevant approval.
Milestone, however, argues that by cancelling its license, BCLB ignored ex parte orders stopping the regulator from undertaking any action that hurts its business.
The company observed that the regulatory action was undertaken on the same day that the the regulator was served with the orders.
“That to preserve the dignity of court and the inviolability of our judicial process, it is imperative that Cyrus Maina, Peter Mbugi, Peter Kanaiya, Paul Njaga, Sabrina Kanini, Joy Masinde and Daniel Koech be sentenced to six months imprisonment,” Benard Chauro, Milestone’s operations manager, stated in an affidavit.
BCLB maintained that, at the time it applied for a license, Milestone’s ownership structure had Jackline Kungu with a 49.75 per cent stake, John Nderitu with 24.87 percent, Joseph Mutua (24.87 percent) and Wilson Karungaru (0.5 per cent).
Later, however, it emerged that SportPesa CEO Ronald Karauri and one Francis Wanderi purchased a combined stake of 95.3 per cent through a series of investment vehicles.
BCLB also sought to stop Milestone from using the Sportpesa brand, domain and associated paybills despite Milestone receiving authorization from Sportpesa Global Holdings Limited (SGHL). Milestone, however, secured ex parte orders stopping the regulatory action.
The transfer of the brand to Milestone had also been opposed by local stakeholders in Pevans East Africa, Sportpesa’s holding company in Kenya.
Investors including businessman Paul Ndung’u opposed Milestone’s entry claiming it was part of a scheme by the foreign shareholders working with Karauri to sideline Kenyan investors.
BCLB maintained that the license cancellation was above board given that Mileston participated in the administrative process.