An expatriate senior manager of American descent at Tatu City Limited, a real estate firm, is implicated in racism claims and local employees now want his work permit which lapses in eight days’ time cancelled.
Disgruntled workers have petitioned the Department of Immigrations and the Ministry of Labour to have Preston Mandenhall Marshall, the Executive Vice President of Rendeavour Service Limited, a foreign subsidiary that runs Tatu City discontinued from his current managerial post.
Mandenhall is accused of “persistent harassment and bullying.”
The staff members have written to the Directorate of Immigration and Citizen Services asking officials there not to renew the work permit that expires on June 30, 2022.
“I am writing this letter to inform you about recent occurring events that have created a very hostile environment and atmosphere within the workplace that is affecting not only me but also my colleagues who might, out of fear of retaliation or further victimisation by our superior, Mr. Preston, are unable to raise these concerns.”
“It is unfortunate that I must write this letter to you, but I feel that I have been subjected to mental anguish and constant bullying and abrasive Islamophobia by my senior colleague which is now bordering harassment.” The petition reads in part.
Mandenhall is in Kenya on a two year work permit that started on June 30, 2020 issued under file number 2178966 by the Department of Immigration headed by Director of Immigrations Alexander Muteshi Imbenzi.
The workers claim he has been exhibiting racism tendencies.
The complainants have also written to the Ministry of Labour over unfair labour practices manifested in arbitrary dismissals.
So far, there are 208 cases in labour office for dispute resolution.
The controversial real estate firm is also facing claims of harbouring illegal expatriates with work permits obtained through misrepresentation.
One of the complainants has since been dismissed after raising the matter.
By the time of going to publication, Tatu City Management had not responded to our queries.
Mandenhall allegedly responded to the queries raised by the workers dismissing them.
Sources at the Immigration Department intimated that they are looking into the case and a decision will be arrived at the right time.
According to the company, Mandenhall has more than 20 years’ experience in emerging markets.
For Rendeavour, he leads sales, marketing and business development across the company’s new city developments.
At Tatu City, he manages daily operations of the 5,000-acre Special Economic Zone in Kenya.
Previously, he was Head of Marketing and Public Affairs for Renaissance Group, the Moscow-based emerging markets investment firm. Prior to Renaissance, Preston was Vice President for Strategy of Russian Standard, Russia’s leading global consumer brand with interests in financial services and alcohol beverage production and distribution.
From 1993-2006, he was a producer and correspondent for NBC News, covering global events in the Soviet successor states, Europe, Central and South Asia, Africa and the Middle East. Preston is a graduate of Cornell University and Phillips Exeter Academy.
The taxman has also raised issues with the real estate firm.
The High Court has allowed the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) to investigate the multibillion project in Kiambu over claims of tax evasion and money laundering.
Justice Esther Maina granted the go-ahead saying the anti-graft agency has the powers to investigate the offences.
EACC said Tatu City was practicing a form of money laundering known as loan back scheme.
It said tax evasion and money laundering are effected through paper transactions involving a chain of interlocking companies, nominee shareholders and purported loans and financing structures.
A sister company- Kofinaf- for example incorporates special purpose vehicles such as Purple Saturn Properties, with shareholding and directorships held by its nominees specifically to hold parcels of land.
It then enters into sell agreement with SPVs and purports to advance them loans- in effect Kofinaf finances its SPVs to finance its own properties.
“It is my finding that in this case the matters being investigated transcend the dispute between the individual shareholders and the petitioners as they revolve around the commission of the offences of tax evasion and money laundering,” the judge said.
Tatu City and Kofinaf Company filed the suit in 2019, seeking to quash letters sent to the Lands PS seeking the State to place caveat or purchase warning on 33 pieces of land.
Eacc also sought from the government documents including survey plans, maps, valuation reports and official searches.
But Tatu said EACC has no powers to order issuance of caveats on tax disputes nor investigate money laundering claims. The companies argued that claims of non-payment of taxes are civil in nature and not under Eacc’s mandate.
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