Flutterwave CEO Olugbenga According to an email to employees received, Agboola has dealt with financial and personal claims against him and the company for the first time this month.
“I am writing today because I want you to know how concerned I am about the impact reading the false allegations against our company has had on all of you,” he wrote.
The fact that the allegations of financial impropriety, conflict of interest and sexual harassment proven false or already have reportedinvestigated and addressed by management is less important to me than the reality that these claims may have shaken your confidence in the company. As founder and CEO, it is my responsibility to address the concerns you have, and this will be a priority for me going forward†
These are the CEO’s first comments since a report by West African weekly newspapera Substack newsletter written by journalist David Hundeyin revealed several allegations against the startup and Agboola, ranging from fraud and perjury to insider trading and sexual harassment.
The report came days after Clara Wanjiku Odero — an ex-employee and current CEO of Credrails — posted a Medium and a series of tweets on April 4, the company and its CEO, Olugbenga Agboola, accused her of having bullied her in the past.
It’s been a week since these accusations from the West African Weekly Came to light. AAt one point it was believed that Flutterwave would not tackle them publicly. for most, the delayed response was a terrible look and spoke to a weak corporate culture that could lead to more spilled tea†
But three days ago, TechCabal, a publication focused on African technology, said in an interview with ex-CEO Iyinoluwa Aboyeji that it received a statement from Flutterwave’s management that read, “The blog post in question is based on recycled and earlier addressed claims and several others that are false.” Agboola’s email to his associates bears a similar characterization.
Agboola’s accusations and response
One of the allegations against the CEO was his involvement with his previous employer, Access Bank, while working on Flutterwave in the early days. According to the report, Agboola did not let his previous employers know that he was working on the startup and accused the CEO of abusing his position and resources to build Flutterwave.
Agboola responded in the email by saying, “The allegations about how I started the company are not true.† I told you during the retreat that a former boss helped us close one of our corporate clients. I am grateful for the learning and mentorship I have received at the numerous employers I worked for before I started Flutterwave†
On Insider Trading Allegations, Agboola has been said to have created an investment vehicle that cashed in on stock prices that were sold below the company’s valuation to employees who held stock options, especially before a fundraising round.
However, according to Agboola, neither he nor Flutterwave engaged in insider trading and mentioned that ex-employees in some areas sold shares they owned to outside parties.
“We have followed all legal processes and procedures, including obtaining board approval when necessary, in approving the sale of shares,” he wrote. †In additionwe work narrow with our third-party law firms to continue to comply with all applicable regulations†
Agboola resolved SEC-related issues and further supported the account provided to TechCabal by ex-CEO Iyinoluwa Aboyeji in the matter, stating that the SEC had an investigation in 2017 that Flutterwave fully complied with, and he is not aware of any ongoing SEC investigation into the company’s operations.
Aboyeji said in his interview that the SEC case was related to concerns that Flutterwave has a number of unaccredited investors under US law and was not charged with the CEO’s insider trading allegations in the West African article. weekly.
The SEC did not confirm or deny any investigation when Hundeyin, the author of the newsletter, contacted them, citing privacy terms†
The newsletter also contained several emails accusing Agboola and his co-founder Ifeoluwa Orioke of having sexual relations with several female employees and harassing some. On this subject Agboola wrote;
We have earlier investigated allegations of sexual harassment from employees (including those against me, and of which I was deleted) and fired employees who were inappropriate towards team members. We’ve had independent third-party reviews that led to the We Hear You and Whistleblower policies you’re all familiar with today† We have always had a zero tolerance policy [to] sexual harassment and we will continue to take action if necessary† No exceptions.
What Flutterwave and Agboola Didn’t Address
The West African Weekly report accused Agboola of creating a fictitious co-founder and CTO identity called “Greg” to assign to more shares for himself (even though he was the largest shareholder) in the early days of the company. And while Aboyeji, Flutterwave’s first CEO, confirmed this claim in his interview, Agboola did not. specifically address this in his email to Flutterwave staff.
The chief executive also did not respond to allegations that Flutterwave had engaged in fraudulent activities – with the knowledge of investors – against its clients.
lastThere was no mention of the pending lawsuits it faces from Clara Wanjiku Odero and another employee, who, according to West African Weekly, is suing Flutterwave for not offering its stock options after serving in senior position with the company for nearly three years. have worked.
Here is the fintech’s answer to Odero’s. On the latter, reached out to comment on the allegations, including its relationship with Banwo & Ighodalo (B&I), the former legal counsel to the said ex-employee who dropped her case despite initial interest in taking on the lawsuit. unicorn.
“As a general policy, we do not comment on specific employee matters of this nature or pending lawsuits, even if they are false, recycled, or earlier addressed claims,” Flutterwave said in an email to . B&I, on the other hand, did not respond to ‘s request for comment.
Meanwhile, a source told that Agboola has since made an out-of-court settlement offer to this ex-employee through an intermediary. The source also said the ex-employee rejected the proposal, which considerable lower than the present value of its 40,000 shares signed by ex-CEO Aboyeji during his time as CEO.
Aboyeji didn’t comment on the number of shares or their current value when reached out, but here’s what he said on the matter:
“When I was at the helm of Flutterwave, it was very important to me that all our employees were rewarded for their incredible sacrifice to help us build a great business,” he said. “I helped design the company’s stock option program and, along with my co-founders, early employees and advisors, be rewarded with stock options [including *the ex-employee] but couldn’t fully implement before I resigned.”
Why Flutterwave Didn’t Go To implement the agreement, especially hers, is unclear even to the then CEO†
“L was made aware afterwards that the founders decided to do things different and some people on that list didn’t get stock options after I left, but I don’t know why,” he added.
Flutterwave wants to refurbish while the CEO is still at the helm
In the email to his employees, CEO Agboola outlined actions the company would take to improve its culture, which currently looks tainted in the eyes of the public.
These measures include improving HR policies in close collaboration with audit and consulting firms, conducting a survey of employees — especially female employees — to get feedback on their experiences in the company, an ‘inclusive workplace training’, the increasing mental health resources and providing greater transparency.
“We’ve made some significant changes to the way we communicate transparent in the organization about compensation, promotions, etc.”, the CEO wrote. †In additionall members of the executive leadership team will hold monthly open hours for staff at all levels† This is going to be a time for us to hear straight away by everything of you and what we can do to be continuous improve.”
On the one hand, it’s understandable that Flutterwave wants to restore the image it had a few months ago as the darling of Africa’s tech ecosystem. Still, some may wonder why the company is making these changes if these entire claims are false.
Speaking of changes and contrary to what tech stakeholders had thought would happen, it looks like Agboola will not step down as CEO only yet. There was nothing about that in the email.
In addition to the leadership team, Agboola said he plans to visit every Flutterwave office on the continent by the end of the year to have “one-on-one” chats with employees.
The rest of the email repeats this:
I know this is a lot to take in! We will have more conversations to discuss all this in more detail. I want to hear from all of you and answer all your questions.
I’ll finish by saying that when we started the company in 2016, our mission was to simplify payments for endless possibilities for businesses, consumers, and most importantly, our customers. That remains our mission, of which you are all a crucial part in achieving it.
I will always put Flutterwave first. And Flutterwave is all of you. As I always say, our people are Flutterwave’s secret sauce and I mean it.
…Thank you for reminding me that to whom much is given, much is needed. I will meet your expectations of me.