* This article was updated as per the note at the end of the piece on February 26, 2021.

The fortunes of Kenya’s once mighty betting giant SportPesa have been dealt yet another blow after two advisory companies that are key to its international operations severed ties — raising further questions over its future.

They include Equiom, SportPesa’s registered agent in the Isle of Man (above), which has provided corporate services, such as maintaining company records, in the betting-friendly tax haven since 2015.

The other is London law firm Ince GD Corporate Services which has acted as its UK company secretary since 2017.

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by Margot Gibbs and Mostafa Yousuf

In 2018, aged just 43, Mojidul Haque* developed severe breathing problems, consulted a doctor and was diagnosed with asbestosis, a potentially fatal respiratory disease which scars the lungs. After more than a decade working in the shipbreaking yards of Chittagong, Bangladesh, he lost his job, and the means to support his family.

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By Lionel Faull

High profile courtroom dramas involving multiple sides often have the feel of a WWE Smackdown wrestling match: titanic egos clashing with each other, trying to batter their foes into submission. The fighters forge alliances, and the argy-bargy can sometimes spill out of the ring and break out elsewhere in the auditorium. 

An epic international corruption trial that is now drawing to a close under the glamorous lights of Milan is a case in point.

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By Lionel Faull & Oladeinde Olawoyin

A consortium of anti-corruption groups who have spent years investigating the Malabu OPL245 oil scandal have called on the Ministry of Justice to break its “thunderous silence” over a secret deal that could have seen huge sums of recovered assets flow to a private US company.

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By Lionel Faull and Paul Wafula

Former Everton FC and Formula 1 sponsor, the African betting giant SportPesa, has been sucking profits out of its lucrative Kenyan business by paying millions of pounds to a software company it owns in the UK – an arrangement that has significantly reduced its tax bills.

An investigation by Finance Uncovered and Kenya’s Daily Nation has found that the British company, SPS Sportsoft, has been providing software services to SportPesa’s Kenyan operation, Pevans East Africa, at what some experts believe is a staggering mark-up of more than 400% since 2017.

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The global economic crisis sparked by Covid-19 means governments urgently need additional revenue as emergency stimulus packages taper.

Capital gains tax – a tax on the profit from the sale of assets such as oil blocks and telecom licences – should be a reliable pot of revenue for countries, particularly poorer, resource rich nations.

However where there’s a tax there’s an avoidance trick. With capital gains tax, the trick is relatively simple.

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Most reporting about tax avoidance schemes in Africa focuses on oil and mining giants. Until now there has been little focus on one of the continent’s most precious natural resources — fish.

Our investigation published with the OCCRP scoured leaked documents to dig into a whistleblower’s claims that one of Europe’s biggest fishing companies, already accused of bribery in Namibia, had used an array of techniques to reduce its tax bills in the country.

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By Lionel Faull and Paul Wafula

(A version of this story was first published by the Daily Nation in Kenya).

A cousin of President Uhuru Kenyatta has quietly accumulated a financial stake in SportPesa’s controversial gambling empire, Finance Uncovered can reveal.

The finding — discovered in details buried in corporate filings in Kenya, the UK and the Isle of Man — came as the president signed a law to axe a 20% excise duty on bets staked, a levy that contributed to SportPesa’s withdrawal from its lucrative Kenyan market last year.

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