via Mugabes’ HK property mystery deepens 04/02/2014 NewZimbabwe
THE South African businessman rowing with President Robert Mugabe’s family over a $5 million luxury Hong Kong property has claimed that Zimbabwe owes him rentals of US$10,000 per month for the same building since June last year.
When he was quizzed about the building in 2009, Mugabe denied owning the apartment and said the family was only renting it for use his by his daughter, Bona, who was then studying in Hong Kong.
But South China Morning Post recently revealed that the Zimbabwe government had approached the High Court in Hong Kong claiming ownership of the building.
Deputy foreign affairs minister Christopher Mutsvangwa denied any government involvement with the court case, telling NewZimbabwe.com that “We have nothing of that sort in our office, and I cannot comment on that because I do not see anything foreign about that”.
But a Writ of Summons issued by the Hong Kong High Court on 27 January 2014 confirms the government is suing Taiwanese-born South African businessman Hsieh Ping Sung (better known as Jack Ping), demanding that he surrenders the building.
The case (Number HCA 167/2014) was filed by Hong Kong attorneys ONC Lawyers who however said the attorney handling the case was not available when reached for comment on Tuesday.
The property was originally bought for about HK$40 million (about $5 million) in 2008 by a property company, Cross Global, allegedly representing the Mugabes and Jack Ping, and then transferred to Ping two years later.
Now the government has approached the Hong Kong High Court seeking a declaration confirming that it is the 100 percent beneficial owner and that Cross Global only held it on trust.
In addition Zimbabwe wants the court to declare “that the transfer of the property between (Cross Global and Hsieh Ping Sung” on or about 29 January 2010 (was) void and has no legal effect.
“(And that Hsieh Ping Sung) do execute and deliver to (the government of Zimbabwe) conveyance of the property.”
His lawyer, Mannie Wits, told SA-based Independent newspapers that Zimbabwe rented the flat from June last year, but allegedly failed to pay the deposit or rental of about R114 000 per month (about $10,200).
“We are now looking for the back rentals from the Zimbabwe government,” he said.Ping meanwhile, has “previous” with Mugabe’s wife, Grace.
The First Lady unsuccessfully tried to have him extradited from South Africa after a deal for the supply of trucks for the family’s dairy enterprise went sour.
Grace accused Ping of trying to fleece her of R7 million (about US$626,000) which was transferred via the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe to one of his companies, Chantrea Trading, in South Africa, in August 2008.
The trucks were later delivered but a furious Grace ordered the arrest of four South African drivers Cassimjee Bilal, Henry Radebe, Samuel Risimati Baloyi and Sydney Masilo, who had been hired by Ping to deliver them.