A Kenyan high court has unfrozen $3 million belonging to fintech giant Flutterwave and two of its associates, ending a legal wrangle that began in 2022. The funds continued to be withheld despite a court order to release them in November 2023.
“We can confirm that the accounts have been unfrozen,” a Flutterwave spokesperson told TechCabal.
In July 2023, Kenya’s Assets Recovery Agency sought court approval to withdraw money laundering charges against the fintech startup, but the judge denied the request, citing the ARA’s failure to provide evidence for dropping the proceedings.
The charge was eventually withdrawn in November 2023, which meant that Flutterwave would regain access to the remaining $3 million of its funds.
“The ARA has officially withdrawn its suit against us, marking an end to the scrutiny of Flutterwave Payments Technology Limited Kenya’s bank accounts,” Flutterwave said in a statement in November 2023.
The Asset Recovery Agency (ARA) initially froze over $55 million of funds belonging to Flutterwave in 2022 following an allegation that the funds were proceeds of fraud and money laundering. The first case was withdrawn in March 2023, after which Flutterwave recovered the majority of the funds amounting to $52.5 million.
The rest of the funds were not immediately released, as the Asset Recovery Agency (ARA) opposed unfreezing them at the time. In January 2024, High Court Judge Nixon Sifuna, assigned to the case, criticized the ARA for requesting to withdraw a second case.
According to the ARA, it found Flutterwave innocent of any fraud in this case, yet it withdrew it and requested that it continue to hold the funds. “Such a litigation facade or decoy is inappropriate, an abuse of the court process, and an attempt at squandering the scarce judicial time,” Judge Sifuna said.
With the funds in the company’s hands, Flutterwave’s next business move will be seeking a payments and remittance license in Kenya. Unlike other licensed payment companies, Flutterwave is not legally allowed to collect or settle payments in Kenya. It only has partnerships with local and international companies operating in Kenya, including Uber.
Kenya is one of Flutterwave’s primary markets, alongside Nigeria, South Africa, and Egypt. The company has also set up strategic offices in Rwanda, Ghana, Cameroon, Cote d’Ivoire, and Senegal.
*This is a developing story