SportPesa linked firm seeks jailing of regulator team


SportPesa CEO Ronald Karauri. FILE PHOTO | NMG

Milestone Games Limited, the company that is fighting to operate under the SportPesa betting brand, has asked the court to jail officials of the Betting Control and Licensing Board for cancelling its licence.

BCLB terminated Milestone’s licence on December 4, 2020, a decision the regulator said was based on the company changing its shareholding structure without seeking approval.

Milestone said in a court filing on Friday that BCLB’s decision ignored ex parte orders stopping the regulator from any action that hurts its business. The company says the ex parte orders were served on BCLB on the same day the alleged contemptuous regulatory action was taken.

“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, said in a supporting affidavit.

BCLB on the other hand says the licence cancellation is legal and came after an administrative process in which Milestone’s officials participated.

The regulator says that when Milestone applied for its licence, it was owned by Jackline Kungu with a 49.75 percent stake, John Nderitu (24.87 percent), Joseph Mutua (24.87 percent) and Wilson Karungaru (0.5 percent).

BCLB says it later discovered that some of the company’s founders were bought out by Mr Ronald Karauri and Francis Kiarie who emerged with a combined stake of 95.3 percent through a series of investment vehicles.

The two new investors also hold shares in Pevans East Africa, the company that initially operated under the SportPesa brand before its licence was cancelled in July last year over unpaid taxes amounting to Sh15 billion. The regulator had also earlier banned Milestone from using the SportPesa trade name but the company obtained ex parte orders stopping this particular regulatory action.

BCLB chairman Cyrus Maina says in an affidavit that the regulator received the ex parte order on December 4, “a day after the show cause hearing and after the respondent rendered its decision on the impugned notice to show cause.”