Kenya’s giant betting firm Sportpesa can now breathe a sigh of relief after the High Court lifted a preservation order affecting the company.
This was after the court overturned KRA’s order of preservation affecting the firm’s M-Pesa Paybill and Till numbers over claims of tax evasion amounting to more than Sh14 billion.
The taxman had accused Sportpesa of failing to submit its tax by carrying out fraudulent schemes that have denied the agency collection of colossal sums of tax.
According to the order, the firm owed KRA a total of Sh14.3 billion shillings, which consisted of Sh12.3 billion principal tax and Sh2.4 billion penalties.
But while overturning the 60-days order which was expected to come to elapse on 6th December, High Court judge David Majanja ruled that the betting firm can now access its bank accounts, which includes M-Pesa paybill as well as till numbers.
“This court is enjoined by Article 10 of the Constitution to observe the rule of law and insist at all times that a State Agency such as KRA comply with the letter and spirit of the law,” communicated judge Majanja.
This was after the firm protested against the order, claiming that KRA had not furnished it with the application as well as the preservation order as required by Section 43 of the Tax Procedures Act.
The judge said KRA had failed to disclose material facts when applying for the extension of the order on 5th October this year.
This comes at a time a state agency is investigating Sportpesa for possible money laundering, amid claims that the sports betting firm wired Ksh30 billion from its local accounts to offshore banks.
The ruling comes at a time the company, on October 30th, announced it was making a big comeback into the Kenyan market.
The comeback was, however, short-lived after Milestone Games Limited was stopped by the BCLB to operate under the Sportpesa brand.
According to the regulator, the trade name had been appropriated from Pevans East Africa Limited, which the BCLB considered to be the rightful owner of the ‘SportPesa’ trademark.