Lawyer Under Fire for Foul Play in Sendwave-WorldRemit Redundancy Case

The merger between Sendwave and WorldRemit, completed in February 2021, was a momentous event in the financial services sector.

WorldRemit, a global cross-border payments company, acquired Sendwave for an estimated $500 million in a cash and stock transaction.

The deal aimed to leverage Sendwave’s robust presence in Africa, particularly in countries like Kenya, Ghana, and Nigeria, to expand into new markets in Latin America and Asia.

Despite the merger, Sendwave continued to operate independently, maintaining its brand, mobile applications, and management structure.

In a previous article, I amplified challenges encountered by Kenyan employees of Sendwave following the merger.

Employees reported being subjected to hostile work conditions under WorldRemit’s management, with dismissals for minor infractions such as being late by a minute or dropping calls.

This led to a wave of redundancies which impacted the Customer Care department, predominantly staffed by Kenyans.

The entire department was terminated abruptly in May 2023.

“We were ambushed with a townhall meeting and fired en masse,” recounted one source.

The dismissals had severe repercussions for many employees who were sole providers for their families and had outstanding loans.

Despite the judge awarding a one-month salary, employees felt this compensation was inadequate compared to their colleagues in other countries, who received proper severance packages due to more stringent labor laws.

Hon. Justice Linnet Ndolo ruled in favor of the claimants, concluding that their termination was unlawful and discriminatory.

The judge found that the claimants’ termination violated Article 27 of the Kenyan Constitution, which guarantees equality and freedom from discrimination.

The employer, Sendwave Limited, failed to provide substantive reasons for the redundancy and did not follow due process in issuing redundancy notices.

The judge awarded the claimants twelve months’ salary for unfair termination, totaling Ksh. 156,372, along with Kshs. 500,000 as damages for discrimination, one month’s salary in lieu of notice and severance pay based on their tenure with the company.

Despite this judgment, employees are determined to appeal the decision, seeking justice and equitable treatment.

A recent source has provided additional information, revealing further complications and allegations against both Sendwave and their legal representation.

According to the source, employees were led to believe that their lawyer, Wangila Alex Waliuala from Maw Advocates, was working in their best interest.

However, discrepancies in communication and handling of funds have raised suspicions.

Employees allege that they were pressured into paying fees for an appeal and other legal processes, but the lawyer became unresponsive after receiving the payments.

One non-committee member warned the group that the settlement money had been disbursed but the committee withheld this information.

When confronted, the lawyer provided a document showing deductions from the housing allowance and court settlement, leaving employees with minimal compensation.

The source further details how the lawyer failed to disclose the full settlement amount and made unauthorized deductions.

Employees were shocked to learn that Sendwave had paid the lawyer an additional Kshs. 807,000, which was not communicated to them. The committee’s failure to hold the lawyer accountable and the lawyer’s refusal to meet with the employees exacerbated the situation.

Hello Cyprian. My name is Mercy. Keep me anonymous for now. You covered a layoff of staff from Sendwave a while back. I was one of them. We had a case. And we have the law firm play foul with the company. Or so we believe. Let me know if you want to hear and air it. I’ll provide all documents.

So, we were fired on 16th May 2023. We were hopeless and sad and wanted to do something about it. One of us immediately came up with an idea to sue Sendwave. We had a group created and we all joined. We were a lot but only 127 accepted to do it. In the group, we discussed things we felt were not okay. At this point, the lawyer is not in the picture.

A guy, I will withhold his name, mentioned that as per labor laws, we ought to have been paid a monthly allowance by Sendwave. And that while filing we need to sue them for it. Sendwave got wind. Immediately, one guy recommended a lawyer. He bragged about knowing him for long. Oh, we could trust him etc. Even without agreeing to this lawyer, he goes ahead and sent an email/letter to Sendwave. At this point, we don’t even have an agreement. The agreement we have was on 20th June. I will share it here.

You see, we were fired in a video call that was pre-recorded. No one expected that. So the lawyer said we had a strong case and asked us for all the evidence. People shared. We asked when we could have witnesses testify to certain things, he said we needed none. The case was strong anyway. That to us did not sit well.

So, in the same May, Sendwave HR sent an email that with the last money we are to be paid, we would have an additional amount for housing allowance. That was the end of May salary since we had worked half of the month. When the money came, we were now in talks with the lawyer like seriously considering him. So we told him that the housing allowance had been paid but not fully. Some months were not paid with an excuse of, the company had moved into some other term. I’ll get it. So part of our plea with the lawyer was to make sure we get the other months paid, some of us were pregnant, we asked to have their insurance extended since it was cut short immediately. Some were on leave, we asked for them to be paid for that too.

So he said we cannot all be talking to him and need a committee. We picked 10 people. One was the guy who brought the lawyer. He then had a meeting with us to discuss payment. We agreed we would pay him 10% of the settlement capped at 1 million. We all left the meeting knowing that. He then sent a document to sign about paying for the filing of the case. Note, filing the case would be 300k and we agreed and signed. Divided amongst us would be 2380 I guess. We paid. With that then he would send a demand letter to the company as our lawyer now.

Some people started asking for these documents like final documents and no one would answer. Later we got the agreement document in August. No one remembers signing that one. It says the amount he takes is 10% of everything including the housing levy and our final redundancy money paid by Sendwave. We are shocked. During the court proceedings, the way he was handling was suspicious. He wasn’t mentioning all we had agreed on, just unlawful termination.

So the court ruled that we get paid one month each and the case filing cost to be paid by the respondent, Sendwave. Remember we asked if the lawyer was working for us or Sendwave. From how he would answer or defend us. Weak AF.

And at the beginning, the judge even told him, “let me educate you” she noticed what we all did. Then the next hearing, he asked for more time and the third one, he skipped and it had to be moved forward. The case was then heard I think twice from December to March when we had the final judgement. No witnesses, just one plea/point fought for. We even asked why the committee did not see an issue with it and the guy who brought the lawyer defended him and one of us was told she’d be sued for defamation. We let it slide.

Sadly we agreed one thing and his document reads something else.

The green is showing the amount he received.

And the statement.

Sending audio recording with the lawyer when some of us called.

And oh, he has been pushing saying the appeal should be done sooner and asked us to pay 1580 each that would total around 200k. We already paid since we “were running out of time” then he went silent. We asked. The committee said we wait it’s a long process and he would communicate. So yesterday, just before the whistle blower made us realize we are being played, the committee came to push us to add some more money since not everyone was doing the appeal from the team we had, yet they were already aware of what was going on.

Yesterday, a non-committee member wrote a warning in the group that the money was out and the committee knows and won’t say. That’s when one of them briefly sent a document and said if we have a problem we should call the lawyer directly. Behold, the lawyer was deducting from the housing allowance and the court settlement. Leaving people with almost nothing. Now, after pocketing the cash he has become arrogant and won’t answer anything. Let me send the documents now.

The money was to be out in 14 days. We asked for lawyer feedback like it was a norm after every meeting and he never responded. We were told to wait. Oh, he is waiting on an agreement from Sendwave. We all calculated that 14 days would be ending on 22nd. Last week, we tried bringing to attention with the committee that ever since the hearing we have not heard anything and that the lawyer should talk. Anyone who asked was bashed out. Hatujui vile law inawork. We then kept asking for a meeting, still fell on deaf ears.

At this point, I bring to your attention that the lawyer in question is Wangila Alex Waliuala. From Maw Advocates. We had two options, Sendwave to pay us directly or pay the lawyer. We all were for the former. But of course, the committee said the lawyer should do what the court suggests or how these things are done. We had another meeting with the judge on May 8th and the figures were out. Not impressive but fine.

We ask, why did the company pay him 807000 yet we are the ones paying him?

None of what we were asking for was even mentioned in court. We asked about it and were told we don’t know how the court works.

As per the judgment Sendwave was to pay for the case, not the lawyer. Which we earlier had paid 300k.

He later arrogantly said he will refund hiyo pesa kidogo.

He is pocketing 3.5 million total and some of us are getting as low as 29k/39k.

The agreement we had with him seems edited.

He is now pushing us to do an appeal.

After this issue, people decided to pull out.

He said he is yet to start the appeal and should do it in a few days after we pay.

Again! Now he says he won’t refund the appeal fee and anyone who feels hataki to contact him directly.

He refuses a meeting with us.

I cannot confirm that they paid him. But there is foul play from him and he is very arrogant. He is a senior partner in his law firm and feels like we cannot do anything about it. To start, the case took a few months. Let me mention that a number of the hearings were skipped because he’d say he needs more time etc. We lost hope and even asked if he is working for us or that company. Let me draw your attention to the judgment. We were to be paid one month. The money was sent to him. Since we did not trust his word of how much was sent, we requested a statement. The guy was paid by Sendwave an extra 8070000. So we ask, why was he?

People asked for their appeal money back so they can opt out since he is yet to appeal and so far, it’s already past the due date.

He said he can’t refund.

That he had already worked on it, he wouldn’t share any documents or receipts showing that he actually worked on it.

To begin with 300k for case filing is absurd.

When we ask for the bill of cost, he is adamant and now says he would rather refund the tiny 300k.

Sendwave, a prominent player in the remittance market, was founded in 2014.

It rapidly gained traction due to its low fees and efficient transfer services, particularly in African countries.

The company’s success was fueled by its user-friendly app, allowing easy and quick money transfers.

However, the merger with WorldRemit introduced new dynamics, leading to operational challenges and alleged discriminatory practices.

WorldRemit, established in 2010, aimed to revolutionize the remittance market by offering digital money transfer services.

The acquisition of Sendwave was part of its strategy to consolidate its market position and expand its service offerings.

Despite the merger’s potential, the integration process has been marred by controversies, particularly in Kenya.

The affected employees continue struggling with financial hardships and lack of adequate compensation.

Pregnant women, in particular, met challenges as their medical insurance was terminated, forcing them to seek alternative means for childbirth expenses.

The community of former Sendwave employees remains tight-knit, supporting each other through these difficult times.

“We were treated like we didn’t matter,” the source reiterated.

“Our colleagues in other countries received proper compensation, but we were left with very little.”

The workers refer to legal precedents that place the burden of disproving discrimination on the employer which Sendwave Limited allegedly failed to do.

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