Flutterwave, one of Africa’s largest unicorns, has been under fire on social media since allegations of insider trading, sexual harassment and perjury hit the Nigerian payment infrastructure provider.
According to Finance Magnates, the reactions follow the allegations contained in an investigative report published on Tuesday by David Hundeyin, editor of West Africa Weekly.
The report accused Olugbena Ayoola, Flutterwave’s Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer of holding onto the stock options offered to a former employee, adding that others were made to sell their stock options below their values to an investment vehicle controlled by him.
Additionally, the report said Agboola and Mr Ife Orioke, Flutterwave’s Chief Commercial Officer, abused their positions of power to have inappropriate sexual relationships with the company’s female employees.
In addition, the report alleged that Agboola created a phantom Flutterwave Chief Technology Officer, Greg Agboola, who needed to be given 10% of Flutterwave’s shareholdings from Co-Founders, Iyinoluwa Aboyeji and Adeleke Adekoya’s shareholdings.
Moreover, the CEO was said to have built Flutterwave while he was still the Head of Digital Factory & Innovation at Access Bank PLC, a Nigerian local lender.
In the report, Hundeyin alleged that the United States Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) in 2018 got wind of the said insider trading practice and summoned Agboola, Aboyeji and the CEO of Access Bank, Herbert Wigwe, to a hearing.
According to the media report, the SEC did not confirm or deny the alleged insider trading but rejected a US Freedom Of Information Act (FOIA) request submitted by the journalist, citing privacy concerns.
Hundeyin wrote in the report: “In early 2018, news about this unholy arrangement got to the United States Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), which has jurisdiction over the Delaware-registered corporation. Under US law, a conviction for insider trading carries a criminal sentence of up to 20 years in prison.
“According to several sources, GB [Agboola], Iyin [Aboyeji] and—for some reason—Herbert Wigwe flew to the Washington DC for an SEC hearing where they allegedly testified under oath that GB never worked simultaneously at Flutterwave and Access Bank.”
The report said Agboola for “at least two years had free reign” to use the lender’s assets to “benefit Flutterwave without the knowledge of Access Bank or most external Flutterwave stakeholders.”
Finance Magnates reached out to Flutterwave for a comment on these allegations but is yet to get a response as of press time.
However, Aboyeji, who resigned from the start-up in 2018, has made several tweets to clear his name.
The Co-Founder of Andela, who attacked the journalist for not reaching out to him for a comment, said Access Bank’s leadership were informed about Flutterwave.
The ex-CEO of Flutterwave also said the company maintained the “highest ethical standards” while he led the fintech company.
Tech Leaders React
Leaders in the emerging Nigerian tech ecosystem have started reacting to the report.
In a Twitter thread, Jason Njoku, the Founder of Iroko TV, an on-demand web TV platform, wrote that “mad money rush” was coming into the industry. Njoku restated the importance of the media in helping to sustain the Nigerian tech ecosystem.
On his part, Ikpeme Neto, the Founder of health-tech start-up, Well Health, described journalists as “a good check and balance mechanism” for the industry.
Matt Flannery, the Co-Founder and CEO of Branch.co, said there is more to come.