Jesse Moore, a Nairobi millionaire whose company received $15.4 million in taxpayers’ aid, in a confidential email told employees to beware Blacklock’s accounts of his business dealings. International Trade Minister Mary Ng refused comment.
“Our company continues to be the target of false reporting,” Moore wrote in a staff email marked “DO NOT FORWARD.” “In recent months M-Kopa has been subject to untruthful and highly misleading articles written by Blacklock’s Reporter. These have since been repeated by a small number of blog sites in Kenya.”
Immediately following the email directive, Minister Ng’s office ended all contact with Blacklock’s over the Kenyan venture. Ng approved the financing. Cabinet in a January 15 Ministerial Mandate letter had pledged not to blacklist media. “Foster a professional and respectful relationship with journalists,” said the letter.
Moore is the Canadian CEO of M-Kopa Holdings Ltd., a Kenyan door-to-door sales company that received millions in federal funding. It was the first recipient of aid by FinDev Canada, an agency launched by cabinet in 2017 on a $300 million mandate to promote international development.
Access To Information documents and other records show FinDev bought $15.4 million worth of shares in Moore’s company without consulting its chief investment officer – the job was vacant at the time – and without disclosing financial details of company operations.
Moore’s company had two-year losses of $51 million when it received the funding. Moore as CEO held stock options worth $633,000 and received a six-figure salary, the equivalent of $397,500 a year including bonuses.
M-Kopa sells Kenyans home appliances, cellphones and household loans at interest rates calculated at 254 percent a year, a rate outlawed in Canada under the Criminal Code. Both Moore and FinDev have declined to answer questions on executive pay, interest charges and other details of M-Kopa operations.
In his email to staff, Moore mistakenly claimed he had contacted Blacklock’s. “M-Kopa and FinDev Canada have sought corrections and offered factual information which has been repeatedly ignored by Blacklock’s editor,” wrote Moore.
“In response to their unprofessional and unethical journalism practices, we have found no value in engaging with them any further,” wrote Moore. “If you do have any questions or concerns about something you read online, do know that you are always welcome to reach out to myself. If you see any misleading articles in the media or social channels, you can contact our communications team.”
“I ask everyone to not let these baseless claims distract us from the important work we do,” said Moore. “We all know what we are achieving, and the truth of our impact should make us all very proud.”
FinDev has not detailed staff contacts with Moore prior to funding his company. The agency censored a total 2,730 pages of records concerning Moore’s company under Access To Information.