At least four foreign directors of Mozzartbet, an international gaming company operating in the country risk deportation days after the firm lost Sh0.3billion to the government over suspicion of money laundering.
Investigations by The Informer have established that the Mozzartbet, besides losing Sh300million to Assets Recovery Authority (ARA), the firm is also under scrutiny over possible tax evasion claims and illegal repatriation of money to foreign bank accounts.
“Arising from the court decision that the firm maybe involved in financial flaws, definitely their operations becomes of interest.” A source intimated.
The four include country manager Sasa Krneta, his deputy who is a Zimbabwean, Loncar Koviljka a Serbian, Melentijevic Branimir and Emmanuel Charumbira, a Zimbabwean national who sits in the board as a director and also as a shareholder.
Also, claims of suspected complicity by the Betting Control and Licensing Board (BCLB) has come to the fore for allegedly colluding with betting companies.
BCLB is mandated to regulate and control betting, lotteries and gaming for the imposition and recovery of taxes.
Peter Mbugi is the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of BCLB while Cyrus Maina, a retired career administrator serves as the chairman.
Fredrick Mbassi is the newly appointed principal assistant to Mbugi serving as the Deputy director at BCLB.
The decision by High Court Judge Justice Esther Maina allowing ARA to seize the money in question held in three bank accounts to has exposed Mozzartbet operations in the country to closer scrutiny by security agencies.
Among the key agencies include the Financial Reporting Centre (FRC) and the Anti-Banking Fraud Unit (BFIU), a specialised unit domiciled under the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI).
In a landmark ruling, Justice Maina directed the money be surrendered to the state.
The money was held at Diamond Trust Bank, Nation Centre Branch, account number 064662201 belonging to Kimaco Connections Limited amounting to Sh251,154,214 and NCBA Bank account number 8443240011 amounting to Sh2496, 670 under account name Pescom Kenya.
Another Sh50million was held different bank belonging to Kimaco Connections Limited.
According to documents filed in court, MozzartBet used its paybill number 290059 to send the money to Kimaco Connections to its paybill 311372.
The highest amount sent was Sh50 million in a single day while the lowest was Sh1.8 million.
Under the Proceeds of Crime and Anti-Money Laundering Act of 2009, which created FRC, those found guilty risk asset seizure, fines and jail terms or both.
Individuals, for instance, face maximum imprisonment of 14 years, a fine of up to Sh5 million or the value of the property involved in the offence, whichever is higher.
For companies, the fine could reach Sh25 million or the amount of the value of the property involved in the offence, whichever is higher.
For international crimes, Kenya can seek co-operation of other jurisdictions in investigations and enforcement actions, including asset seizure.
Such requests for extradition and mutual legal assistance are principally channeled through the office of the Attorney-General.
A while back, the government deported Sportpesa foreign directors notably American Gene Grand and Bulgarian Guerassim Nikolov who used to live in Kenya alongside other foreign investors in betting firms that were accused of not paying taxes.