BD Insider: Flutterwave responds to 86fb/86z's allegations of maliciously freezing and extorting its funds

In this letter, we covered Meta's response to allegations of poor work conditions at its contractor’s hub in Kenya and Flutterwave's response to 86fb/86z allegations

BD Insider: Flutterwave responds to 86fb/86z's allegations of maliciously freezing and extorting its funds

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Editor's note:

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Currently, we are experiencing the pains of growth. And as such, we are made to pre-maturely think about scale. One of such urgent pains is the choice of our newsletter platform, due to our size, we have been barred from sending newsletters unless we upgrade our plan.

We are not interested in haphazardly upgrading our plan and in fact, we would rather do something more holistic—a full platform upgrade. Hence, our decision to move slowly on this.In the interim, we continue to provide you with African tech and startup news updates via our newsletter hosted on our website. And you can read the last three issues here.We are not settled yet, neither are we done.

Our goal is to bring you the cleanest platform to catch up on news, analysis, and stories in tech from Africa.

Finally, we’ve got another announcement at the end of the newsletter.

In this letter:

  • Meta disputes allegations of poor work conditions at its contractor’s hub in Kenya
  • Flutterwave responds to 86fb/86z allegations of maliciously freezing and extorting its funds Let’s dive in.

Meta disputes allegations of poor work conditions at its contractor’s hub in Kenya

Following reports that Meta and Sama, its main subcontractor for content moderation in Africa, are facing a lawsuit in Kenya over alleged unsafe and unfair working conditions. The global tech company has distanced itself from the claims. Sama, which is alleged to have fired its former employee Daniel Motaung for leading a strike in 2019 over poor pay and work conditions, has also denied any wrongdoing.

Why it matters: Recall that, Nzili and Sumbi Advocates, the law firm representing Daniel Motaung, a former Sama employee who was laid off for organizing a strike in 2019 over poor working conditions and pay, accused the subcontractor of violating various rights, including that of health and privacy of Kenyan and international staff.

What they’re saying: Per TechCrunch, a letter sent to Motaung’s lawyer, Mercy Mutemi, by Sama’s lawyers, Bowmans stated that “your client’s employment was terminated because of unacceptable actions taken against fellow employees that jeopardized their safety.”

Bowmans added that “the process leading to the termination of your client was fair, clear and well documented; there is absolutely no basis for the allegation that your client was unfairly dismissed from employment. Similarly, there is no basis for the allegation that your client is entitled to compensation.”

Meanwhile, Meta said it was not privy to the arrangement its subcontractor had with Moutang. “There was no employer/employee relationship between Meta and the Claimant (Motaung), upon which a cause of action may be premised. No action can therefore be brought against Meta for any rights and/or obligations allegedly due to owing to the Claimant with respect to his employment with Sama, as Meta is not and has never been his employer,” said Anjaarwalla & Khanna LLP, the law firm representing Meta.

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Flutterwave responds to 86fb/86z allegations of maliciously freezing and extorting its funds

Flutterwave has distanced itself from the allegations from an online gambling company, 86fb/86z.

Why it matters: Last week, the platform which claims to focus on football and collaborates with William Hill, a global online gambling company based in London, England, to integrate probability and statistics, disclosed in a statement that its funds have been maliciously frozen by Flutterwave. It added that this had made it impossible for it to pay up its investors.

“[Flutterwave] maliciously froze our funds and intends to take the funds as their own and extort us by cooperating with the local police. 86fb has never yielded as we have been trying our best to protect the rights and interests of every user, but the other party has a strong background in Nigeria, we cannot fight against it, so now 86fb cannot withdraw money normally,” 86fb/86z stated.

86fb/86z’s allegations against Flutterwave came after its investors—mostly Nigerians took to social media to call out the platform for not paying their ROIs.

What they’re saying: In a statement released by Flutterwave on Sunday, the fintech unicorn said, “Flutterwave is not a bank; we are a payment processor and do not hold customers’ funds including those belonging to customers of 86FB/86Z,”

Flutterwave added that “as a licensed payment service provider, Flutterwave is required to conduct a routine review of transactions and KYC of its registered merchants. A recent exercise revealed that some merchants were passing transactions on behalf of 86FB/86Z…without approval or authorisation.”

According to the fintech startup, the merchants involved were suspended from using the platform and all funds due to these merchants were settled.

Is this a Ponzi Scheme?: 86FB/86Z claims to be owned by City Football Group (CFG) —an Abu Dhabi based company which owns Manchester City Football Club in England. However, it is not listed among CFG’s football business investments.

Even though a caption on CFG’s official website indicates that “City Football Group invests in football-related businesses around the world, connected by the common aim to increase participation and engagement with football.” It only listed Sapphire Sports, Goal Soccer Centres and Esports in its portfolio, neither is 86FB/86Z listed on the partners’ list.

Tough times at Flutterwave: Q2, 2022 has been a tough time for the African unicorn following several allegations of bullying, mismanagement and serious administrative errors at the startup.

In a Medium post on April 6, Clara Wanjiku Odero, a Nairobi-based fintech founder and a former employee at Flutterwave accused the company’s current CEO, Olugbenga “GB” Agboola of bullying and harassing her. Odero also accused Flutterwave of withholding payments after she resigned.

A few days after Odero’s allegations, a report by West Africa Weekly, a Substack newsletter by David Hundeyin, a Nigerian journalist alleged that Flutterwave’s CEO created a phantom ‘co-founder’ identity to give himself more shares in the company’s early days, and offered share prices below the company’s valuation to employees who wanted to cash in on their vested options.

Other allegations include that he did not disclose to Access Bank, his last employer, that he was simultaneously working for them while building Flutterwave in the startup’s early days, thereby taking unfair advantage of his position and assets at the bank.

Most recently, Rest of World accused Ifeoluwa Orioke, Agboola’s brother-in-law, who is currently the Chief Commercial Officer at Flutterwave of making unwanted sexual advances to at least one female employee.Even though Flutterwave has not provided any clear explanations for these allegations, in an email to employees on April 20, reported by TechCrunch, Agboola denied the allegations of impropriety and self-dealing.

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Have a great week!

🖊 Johnstone Kpilaakaa