Flutterwave’s USD 52 million, Held on Money Laundering Suspicion, Released by Kenya.

By Mark Kawalya

In the middle of 2022, payments firm Flutterwave found itself in a pickle after the firm’s funds in the millions of dollars were frozen. This was in response to a series of questions that Kenyan authorities raised about the startup’s activities. Allegedly, the firm was involved in money laundering, with large amounts of cash being transferred among the firm’s top executives.

Similarly, it was reported that the Nigerian firm was operating in Kenya illegally without appropriate documentation from authorities such as the Central Bank of Kenya. Consequently, Kenya froze USD 52 million of Flutterwave’s funds, which were spread out in bank accounts that belong to the company.

A few days later, Flutterwave made a statement denying any sort of financial illegalities, citing its high regulatory standards and anti-money laundering practices.

The company further explained that as a payments gateway, it earned transaction fees and had funds stored for supporting its operations.

In early February, the firm’s CEO, Olugbenga Agboola, who was being pressured at the height of the scandal, flew into Kenya to have the funds unfrozen and explore avenues of having Flutterwave continue operations in Kenya.

This would entail the firm getting fully licensed from entities like the Central Bank of Kenya. Agboola’s efforts proved fruitful, as soon as a statement from the startup revealed that the funds had been unfrozen and the firm would continue working with local partners. This is after the firm was cleared by the Asset Recovery Agency (ARA).

 “We are pleased to have this matter resolved so we can resume our work with our strategic partners in Kenya, providing innovative payment solutions to companies and individuals in one of Africa’s largest and most dynamic economies,” said Flutterwave Founder and CEO, Olugbenga Agboola. 

Flutterwave is used by thousands of Kenyans, such as Uber drivers and food vendors, to receive their daily earnings.

“The fintech sector in Africa, with its new entrants and accelerated pace of growth, attracts a considerable amount of scrutiny and, at times, suspicion. Given our own rapid growth and status as a first mover, we anticipate and welcome the opportunity to be transparent about our operations and cooperate with regulators,” he added.

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