Flutterwave CEO Addresses Allegations of Misconduct in Email to Employees – TechCrunch

Olugbenga, CEO of Flutterwave Agboola, for the first time, addressed claims of financial and personal misconduct brought against him and the company this month, according to an email to employees obtained by TechCrunch.

“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 allegations of financial impropriety, conflict of interest and sexual harassment have has been proven false or already was reportedinvestigated and approached by management interests me less than the reality that these allegations may have shaken their confidence in the company. As founder and CEO, it is my responsibility to address concerns you may have, and this will be a priority for me in the future..”

These are the chief executive’s first comments since a reported by West Africa Weeklya Substack newsletter written by journalist David Hundeyin, revealed various allegations against the startup and Agboola, from fraud and perjury to insider trading and sexual harassment.

The report came days after Clara Wanjiku Odero – a former employee and current CEO of Credrails – published a Medium post and a series of tweets on April 4 accusing the company and its CEO, Olugbenga Agboola, of bullying her in the past.

It’s been a week since these West African Weekly allegations came to light. ONEAt some point, it was believed that Flutterwave would not approach them. publicly. For most, the delayed response was a terrible look and spoke to a weak company culture that can lead to more spilled tea.

But three days ago, TechCabal, a publication focused on African technology, in an interview with former CEO Iyinoluwa Aboyeji said it had received a statement from Flutterwave management that read: “the blog post in question is based in recycled and previously addressed allegations and several others that are false.” Agboola’s email to his employees carries a similar characterization.

Agboola’s Allegations and Response

One of the allegations against the CEO was his involvement with his previous employer Access Bank while working at Flutterwave in its early days. According to the report, Agboola did not let his previous employers know that he was working at the startup and was accused of taking advantage of his position and resources to build Flutterwave.

Agboola, in the email, responded to this by saying, “The claims about how I started the company are false. I shared with you during the retreat that a former boss helped us close one of our corporate clients. I am grateful for the learning and guidance I received in numerous employers I worked for before starting Flutterwave.”

On insider trading allegations, Agboola it is said having created an investment vehicle that profited from stock prices selling below the company’s value to employees who had stock options, especially before a fundraising round.

But according to Agboola, neither he nor Flutterwave engaged in insider trading and mentioned that former employees sold shares they owned to third parties at times.

“We follow all legal processes and procedures, including obtaining board approval when necessary, when approving the stock sale,” he wrote. Furthermorewe work closely with our external law firms to remain compliant with all applicable regulations.”

Addressing SEC-related issues, Agboola further supported the account provided by former CEO Iyinoluwa Aboyeji to TechCabal on the matter, stating that in 2017, the SEC had an investigation that Flutterwave fully complied with, and he is not aware of any investigation. in progress of the SEC about the company’s activities.

Aboyeji, in his interview, said the SEC case was related to concerns about Flutterwave having some investors not accredited under US law and was not an indictment of the CEO’s insider trading allegations stated in the West African Weekly article.

The SEC did not confirm or deny any investigation when Hundeyin, the author of the newsletter, contacted.

The newsletter also released several emails accusing Agboola and her co-founder Ifeoluwa Orioke of having sex with several female employees and harassing some. On this issue, Agboola wrote;

We have previously investigated allegations of employee sexual harassment (including those made against me, of which I it was clean) and fired employees who were unsuitable to team members. We had independent third-party reviews that gave rise to the We Hear You and whistleblower policies you all know today. We have always had a zero tolerance policy. [to] sexual harassment and we will continue to take action when 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 to distribute more shares for himself (even though he was the biggest shareholder) in the company’s early days. And while Aboyeji, who was the first CEO of Flutterwave, verified this claim in his interview, Agboola did not specifically address this in your email to the Flutterwave team.

The chief executive also did not respond to accusations that Flutterwave carried out fraudulent activities – with the knowledge of investors – against its customers.

Lastlythere has been no word on the ongoing lawsuits it is facing by former employees Clara Wanjiku Odero and another lady, who, according to the West African Weekly, is suing Flutterwave for not offering its stock options after nearly three years. working at the company in a senior role.

Here is fintech’s answer to Odero’s. On the latter, TechCrunch sought comment on the allegations, including his relationship with Banwo & Ighodalo, a former legal adviser to the former employee who dropped the case despite showing initial interest in taking on the unicorn.

“As a general policy, we do not comment on employee-specific matters of this nature or pending litigation, even when they may involve false, recycled or previously complaints addressed,” Flutterwave said in an email to TechCrunch. B&I, on the other hand, did not respond to TechCrunch’s request for comment.

Meanwhile, a source told TechCrunch that Agboola made an out-of-court offer to this former employee through an intermediary. The source also said that the former employee rejected the proposal, which was significantly lower than the current value of its 40,000 shares signed by andx-CEO Aboyeji during his time as CEO.

Aboyeji did not comment on the number of shares or their current value, but here is what he told TechCrunch:

“When I was in charge of Flutterwave, it was very important to me that our entire team were rewarded for their incredible sacrifice in helping us build an incredible company,” he said. “I helped design the company’s stock option program and worked with my co-founders, first employees and directors who will be rewarded with stock options [including *the ex-employee] but could not completely implement before I resign.”

Why Flutterwave Didn’t Move On implement the deal, particularly hers, is unclear, even to the then CEO.

“I was made aware after the founders decided to do things differently and some of the people on that list didn’t get stock options after I left, but I don’t know why,” he added.

Flutterwave wants to fix its CEO still in charge

In the email to his employees, CEO Agboola outlined actions the company would take to improve its culture, which seems tarnished at the moment in the public eye.

These measures include improving your HR policies while working closely with auditing and consulting firms, surveying employees – particularly female employees – to get feedback on their experiences at the company, an “inclusive workplace training”, increasing mental health resources and provide more transparency.

“We have made some significant changes to the way we communicate transparently in the organization about compensation, promotions, etc.”, wrote the CEO. Furthermoreall members of the executive leadership team will have monthly open hours for employees at all levels. This will be a time for us to listen directly from all of you and what we can be doing to be continuously improving.”

On the one hand, it’s understandable that Flutterwave wants to restore the image it had just a few months ago as the darling of Africa’s tech ecosystem. Still, the questions on some minds will be why the company is making these changes if all these claims are false.

Talking about changes and contrary to what tech stakeholders might think would happen, it looks like Agboola will not step down as CEO. only still. There was no mention of this in the email.

Along with the leadership team, Agboola said he plans to visit all of Flutterwave’s mainland offices by the end of the year to speak “one on one” with employees.

The end of the email reiterates this:

I know this is a lot to take in! We will have more conversations to discuss all of this in more detail. I want to hear from all of you and answer any questions you have.

I will end by saying that when we started the company in 2016, our mission was to simplify payments for infinite possibilities for companies, consumers and especially our customers. That remains our mission, of which all of you are a crucial part to come true.

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 required. I will live up to your expectations of me.

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