Africa’s most valuable Start-up, Flutterwave is facing a fresh bout of negative publicity after former employees came forward with damning information against the company. A Substack newsletter published on the West Africa Weekly by Nigerian journalist David Hundeyin on April 12 details cases of insider trading, sexual assault and intimidation of employees in the hands of Flutterwave CEO Olugbenga Agboola popularly known as GB.
The exposé details GB’s fraudulent practices that saw him create a pseudo-personality in the earlier days of founding the company so he could award himself extra shares. The employees also accused him of offering stock shares in the company as rewards for exemplary work before going round and forcing them to sell them way below the market-value to investment vehicles that he control.
One of the receipts shared a conversation between the CEO and an employee, where he asks the employee to confirm sale of shares at $3.50. The valuation at the time showed that the company shares were worth $20.
Last week, KahawaTungu as well as a number of online publications carried a story detailing how a Kenyan lady, Clara Wanjiku Odera was hitting back at GB for harassment which she claimed had been going on for five years since she left the company.
“I have been constantly belittled, lied about, harassed, had my name tarnished and almost arrested because of Olugbenga Agboola the CEO of Flutterwave and I am calling time. It has been almost 5 years of constant harassment and I am over it all,” Wanjiku, who now runs Credrails, an open finance platform backed by SoftBank, as CEO said.
Odera detailed cases of harassment at the hands of GB, which eventually landed her in the hands of the DCI after Flutterwave failed to remove her as a contact person for businesses linked to fraud.
In yet another case of employee intimidation, one employee who chose to remain anonymous said she decided to take Flutterwave to court after the company failed to allocate her 40,000 shares valued at $2 million, even after signing off the offer. However, after retaining her lawyers and commencing the litigation process, the lawyers abruptly changed tune, and told her that Flutterwave had become a big client of the company and they could no longer represent her.
The employee said that ” whenever Flutterwave wants anything in Nigeria – ethical or not – GB just signs a cheque and makes any problem go away.”
The expose goes on to paint the picture of a man who remains unbowed by any form of threat, lawsuits and calls for accountability, only responding when superior power is invoked. In one case, an employee had to reach out to one of the company’s big clients to be allowed to exercise his options before his stock grants could expire. After the client reached out to GB, he then assumed the position of a very fair boss, promising to ‘clear the confusion’ that had arisen.
Evidence presented in the story also showed that GB had been practicing insider trading by holding on to his job as Head of Digital Factory & Innovation at Access Bank, Nigeria while working at Flutterwave. He retained the CTO position and appointed Iyin Aboyeji as Flutterwave CEO to deflect attention from him. This went on for two years and in some instances, GB appeared for Flutterwave meetings as Access Bank to gain advantage.
Eventually, the bank found out his connection with Flutterwave and he chose to leave. By then, there were so many dealings between both entities.
Despite allegations of sexual misconduct, workplace bullying and fraudulent practices in the company, a lot of investors are reportedly tight-lipped after it emerged that most of them had not conducted due diligence before coming on-board. Calling out Flutterwave at this point would mean that the company goes down, along with their investments.