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Forgery, non-existent lawyer claims in SportPesa licence row

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Forgery, non-existent lawyer claims in SportPesa licence row


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Betting Control and Licensing Board chairman Cyrus Maina. PHOTO | NMG

A non-existent law firm prepared court documents opposing the intended punishment by the High Court for use of SportPesa licence for betting in the year to June 2023.

Law firm — Swanya & Swanya Advocates — commissioned an affidavit on behalf of Betting Control and Licensing Board (BCLB) chairman Cyrus Maina, which opposed an application to find the board directors in contempt for defying the High Court in the continued use of SportPesa brand in Kenya’s gaming business.

Businesswoman Asenath Wachera Maina says in an application that Mr Maina filed an affidavit dated September 28 bearing the stamp of Swanya & Swanya Advocates.

She, however, says the law firm does not exist after making inquiries from the Law Society of Kenya (LSK) — which confirmed in documents tabled in court that the legal company did not exist.

“That the purported replying affidavit should not be on record and should be struck out to prevent further abuse of the court process,” says Ms Maina, adding that the affidavit is a forgery and should be struck out from the court records.

She relied on a notice from the LSK, which said their records do not have advocates working under Swanya & Swanya.

Ms Maina has petitioned the court to punish BCLB board members and Milestone Games principals — Ronald Karauri and Bernard Chauro — for failing to terminate the use of the SportPesa brand in line with court orders issued last month.

The High Court last month froze the licence issued to Milestone Games in August by the BCLB to use the SportPesa brand for the year to June 2023.

The freeze followed a petition by Ms Maina who has a 21 percent stake in Pevans East Africa that pioneered the sports gaming business in Kenya with the SportPesa brand.

Pevans East Africa ceased operations after losing its licence in 2019, partly due to allegations of non-payment of taxes that the Kenya Revenue Authority last computed at Sh95 billion.

But the brand got its first approval from BCLB in August, triggering the court fight for the key assets of the gaming firm, including the trademark and web domains.

The award of the SportPesa licence to another firm — Milestone Games — has split the board of BCLB, with some directors denying knowledge of the deal and court consent.

Four BCLB board members — Simon Kingara, Sabrina Kanini, Jason Nyatino and Joy Masinde — told the court that they were not part of the decision that reached a consent, which was filed in court on May 22, allowing Milestone Games to renew its licence and use the SportPesa brand in betting activities.

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