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Waverley Blankets ownership wrangle: trial begins under private prosecution

by Simbarashe Sithole
05 Feb 2023 at 23:35hrs | Views
The trial of Aron Vico for fraudulently taking over Waverley Blankets, a company owned by the late prominent industrialist, Victor Cohenm has begun under private prosecution.

Vico appeared in court on January 31 and was ordered to submit his defence papers for the trial to begin on February 7.
This becomes the second case in the history of the country to go under private prosecution following the case involving former Bikita legislator Munyaradzi Kereke which resulted in his conviction on charges of raping a minor.

The trial comes after Cohen's daughters, Amanda Berkowitz and Belynda Halfon, sought private prosecution after accusing Vico of using his influence in the courts and other law enforcement organs to sway the case in his favour.

They are represented by Charles Warara and appear before Magistrate Taurai Manuwere.

A certificate for private prosecution was first issued in November 2020.

A private prosecution is a criminal proceeding initiated by an individual citizen or private organization instead of a public prosecutor. In Zimbabwe, almost all criminal prosecutions are undertaken by the State, but there is a provision for the PG to allow for private prosecution.

In 2019, High Court judge Justice Maria Zumba-Dube reserved judgment in the ownership dispute over the late businessman's Waverley Plastics.

Cohen died in South Africa in 2017 while receiving treatment and left a vast business empire that includes Waverley Plastics, which is at the centre of the dispute.

His daughters are accusing Vico of fraudulently assuming ownership of their father's empire after manufacturing fake documents which he presented to the Registrar of Companies to change ownership of the company.

The sisters approached the court seeking to set aside the irregular allotment of 400 shares that gave Vico power to take over Waverly Plastics.

In their submission to the court, they said Vico, with the help of accounting firm AA Omar and one Maxwell Maheya, connived and manufactured documents which he used in the allotment of 400 shares in Waverley Plastics without a company resolution or knowledge of shareholders.

The daughters of Cohen, the founder of Waverley Blankets, instituted a private prosecution on fraud charges against Vico after the State declined to prosecute citing a lack of evidence.

The family wrote to Prosecutor-General Kumbirai Hodzi requesting a certificate to prosecute Vico on allegations of fraudulently divesting the founder's children of the bulk of their ownership of the company and taking over 80% of the shareholding.

A late Harare tycoon's children might have lost control of at least 13 companies after Vico allegedly forged their signatures on registration documents following Cohen's death in 2017 amid suspicion of corrupt activities at the Registrar of Companies.

Cohen was also the founder of Con Textiles, which was liquidated.

Berkowitz and Halfon are fighting to regain control of Waverley Blankets.

The sisters say a search at the Registrar of Companies revealed that 12 other companies namely Blankets for Africa, Waverley Plastics, Colourfast Textiles and Printers, SpunBond, Gallimard Fashions, Tatendarana, Centracom, Ram Inv, Ordin Trading, Saelate, Inverneil and Keepline Trading had changed ownership without their knowledge.

Source - Byo24News