The Betting Control and Licensing Board (BCLB) has cancelled the licence of a new firm that was formed by a section of the Sportpesa board in a bid to return to the betting market. 

BCLB, while issuing the decision, accused Milestone Games Limited, which was used by Sportpesa to obtain its licence by transferring its shareholding hence violating the law.

Milestone owners, who were before the board Thursday, tried unsuccessfully to defend the move with BCLB issuing the decision to cancel Sportpesa’s license indefinitely on Friday.

The decision by the board effectively returns SportPesa to the cold a few days after it announced its return promising Kenyan betting gladder tidings.

BCLB chairman Cyrus Maina, in the ruling, noted that when Milestone applied for its license, its shareholding included Nob Five Limited (9,950 shares) and Wilson Ngatia Karungaru (50 shares).

Maina said Nob Five was then owned by John Munene Nderitu (250 shares), Jackline Nyambura Kungu (500 shares) and Joseph Muendo Mutua (250 shares).

The BCLB boss revealed that on getting its licence, Selenium Limited – a totally new company – appeared on Nob’s shareholders roll and that it was owned by Sportpesa CEO Ronald Karauri and Francis Waweru Kiarie.

Both Karauri and Kiarie are shareholders in Pevans Limited, which owns and operates Sportpesa.

“Having considered the foregoing, the Board was not satisfied with the explanations proffered by your company and accordingly arrived at the decision to cancel your company’s bookmakers off the course license number 0000205 dated 6th October 2020,” BCLB said in their ruling.

Had BCLB not jumped in and cancelled the license, Sportpesa would have continued operating under a new management company - Milestone - but minus the tax bill slapped taxman KRA. 

High Court a few days ago allowed Pevans Limited to access its bank accounts and paybills hence giving it the green light to collect its bet monies and access the Sportpesa platforms.

Kenya Revenue Authority has opposed the decision by the High Court as it had sought the freezing of Sportpesa bank accounts to give it time to investigate tax evasion claims.

The betting firm found itself in the middle of a storm following allegations that it was sneaking profits made in Kenya to tax havens amid wrangles in the Pevans board over Sportpesa’s fate.