Trio in the Dock Over U.S.$4,2 Million Fraud

By Tendai Rupapa
A Chinese businesswoman who is into local property development almost lost her property in Waterfalls, Harare, worth $4,2 million to three suspected fraudsters, who allegedly used a fake agreement of sale document to change ownership of the property into their own names.

Ms Yan Yu jointly owned Shomet Industrial Holdings (Pvt) Ltd with her late husband, Mr Zhaosheng Wu.

The trio — Washington Frera (38), Vincent Tom Barris (57) and Norman Ngoshi (42) — appeared before Harare magistrate Ms Tilda Mazhande last week charged with fraud.

They were remanded to May 4 on $100 bail each. Frera is being represented by Mr Job Sikhala, while Mr Raymond Nembo is acting on behalf of Barris and Ngoshi.

Prosecutor Ms Ropafadzo Botsh alleged that sometime in May last year, Ms Yan and her late husband, Mr Zhaosheng, decided to borrow $2,2 million for the purposes of developing their business.

Frera, Barris and Ngoshi got wind of the news that the couple wanted a loan.

They allegedly hatched a plan to defraud the couple of their company and assets.

It is alleged that Frera approached the pair and told them that his company, Christian Community Life Assurance (Pvt) Limited, could loan them the money they needed at an interest rate of 15 percent per annum.

MS Yan agreed to the deal and as surety, she offered 100 percent shares of their company.

The memorandum of loan agreement was signed on May 9 last year between Yan and Frera.

The loan was supposed to be released on May 29.

However, Frera failed to honour the agreement, which led to the cancellation of the deal.

In September last year, the trio allegedly made a fake agreement of sale dated May 10 in which they misrepresented that their company had swapped its gold mining claims in Bindura with Ms Yan’s 100 percent shares in Shomet Industrial Holdings (Pvt) Ltd.

The trio allegedly forged Mr Zhaosheng’s signature in the agreement.

Using the fake document, the trio proceeded to the Companies Registrar and effected a change of directorship in which they announced that the couple had resigned from their company, the court heard.

Sometime in March this year, the trio, using a fake CR14 document, approached a land developer, Cornillius Muzvongi, and misrepresented that they were the owners of the 251 499 hectares of land in Waterfalls and residential clusters in Greendale, which were registered under Shomet, the State alleged.

They allegedly claimed that they wanted to develop the said properties and were looking for a partnership.

Muzvongi, who was interested in the partnership, was asked by the trio to pay $101 000 and he in turn requested to see the CR14 a copy of which he was given.

During the verification process, Muzvongi discovered that the real owners of Shomet were Ms Yan and Mr Zhaosheng. He then contacted Ms Yan and informed her of the trio’s plot.

A report was made to the police, leading to the trio’s arrest.

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