The continuous brawl between the Sportpesa brand and the Kenyan Government has taken an ugly turn as the cabinet minister has given the go-ahead for the deportation of foreign nationals working in conjunction with the brand
After the raid carried out on Wednesday by officials representing multiple government agencies in Sportpesa’s offices in Nairobi, reports indicated that the officials who were accompanied with the police were seeking “documents that had information on the company’s recently relaunched online betting operations."
On Thursday, the Kenyan Media reported that “the raid resulted in the arrest of an unspecified number of foreign nationals believed to be primarily from Eastern Europe.”
Further reporting that “the arrested individuals were among 14 foreigners that Interior Minister Fred Matiangi ordered to be deported on Thursday for alleged operations in Kenya without proper work permits and also their involvement in illegal gambling practices.”
The Sportpesa brand was founded by Guerassim Nikolov, and several other Bulgarian Nationals, and remains a stakeholder in Sportpesa. Nikolov is perceived to be among the 17 foreign directors of betting companies to be deported in the summer of 2019 for a variety of charges such as “cited justifications, expired work permits, evasion of tax and lack of any permits whatsoever.”
However, notably, Matiangi issued a warning a week ago stating that:
certain individuals have been pressuring the government to ease off its attacks on the gambling sector, which began in 2019 with the suspension of 19 operators’ licenses following a tax dispute with the Kenyan Revenue Authority.” People’s Daily reported CEO of the Betting Control Licensing Board Peter Mbugi denied the allegations that his group carried out any raid on Wednesday, saying “the action was carried out by a government multi-agency team that is cracking down on illegal gambling activities and foreigners working in the country without work permits.
Despite all the hiccups currently faced by Sportpesa, the brand's new Kenyan betting site has continued operations and it is seen to have undergone some payment processing on the 17th of December stating that “it had resolved the small technical hitch affecting deposits and withdrawals on the platform that occurred earlier on.”
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