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SportPesa suffers new setback as BCLB summons new firm owner

Last updated 2 months ago | By Kamau Muthoni

Ronald Karauri CEO SportPesa and CS Sports, Culture and National Heritage, Amina Mohamed  on Sunday, 5. May 2019. [Photo Standard]

Betting Control and Licensing Board (BCLB) has summoned new SportPesa owner, Milestone Games Limited, to explain why the firm’s licence should not be cancelled or varied.

BCLB had suspended the firm’s permit over the use of the brand name. However, the firm went to court and got the name SportPesa back.

The betting firm’s directors will now appear before the betting regulator to explain their relationship with Pevans Limited, if any, and show cause why the licence should not be withdrawn.

Unfolding saga

BCLB chairman Cyrus Maina has written to Milestone’s operations director Bernard Chauro, requiring the directors of Nob Five Limited and Wilson Karungaru Ngatia to appear before the board and explain why the licence should not be withdrawn.

They are accused of breaching an agreement they signed before being issued with a betting licence.

BCLB says the approval was to enable it to conduct due diligence on who owns Milestone, its directors, and the shareholders.

Milestone’s ownership is an unfolding saga as the board’s letter on the firm’s registration indicate that Pevans owners are back to the game, but with a new face. This is the puzzle that Milestone directors will be required to explain.

According to BCLB, Nob Five has 9,950 shares in Milestone while Karungaru’s stake in the firm is 50.

But the ownership web does not end there. Nob Five is owned by Selenium Limited, holding 9,600 shares while Jacqueline Nyambura Kungu owns 400 shares.

According to the board’s letter dated November 24, Selenium Limited owned by Ronald Karauri has 400 shares and Francis Waweru Kiarie has 300 shares.

Governor Kericho County Paul Chepkwony (left) and Ronald Karauri CEO SportPesa carry Most Valuable player award 2017 during KPL Awards in Nairobi on Jan 12, 2018. [Jonah Onyango, Standard]

“It is the view of the board that the actions that the aforementioned actions of the company constitute a material breach of the applicable requirements for which its licence may be cancelled or varied,” Mr Maina wrote to Milestone.ber 24, 2020.

In its court papers, Milestone explained that the brand SportPesa is not owned by Pevans. Instead, it said it is owned by SportPesa Global Holding. It also roped in Pevans as an interested party in the case.

In court, Milestone’s lawyers Otieno Ogola and Company Advocates said BCLB unilaterally took the drastic action without giving it a chance to explain why and how it got the name.

Trademark

“It is not true that the trademark SportPesa belongs to M/S Pevans East Africa Limited and this information was communicated to the respondent (BCLB). The applicant has further received confirmation that M/S Pevans East Africa Limited does not own the said trademark as alleged by the respondent from the letter,” court papers read.

However, BCLB chairman in his letter requiring Milestone owners to appear before it on December 3 says the board’s investigations revealed Milestone’s shareholding had since changed.

BCLB issued the licence to Milestone director James Muigai Ngengi on October 6. However, Mr Muigai’s name does not feature as a shareholder. BCLB suspended the licence after it learned Milestone had taken up SportPesa.

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