Fidelis Munyoro Chief Court Reporter
THE family of the late Victor Cohen, the founder of Waverley Blankets, has been issued with a private certificate of prosecution paving way for the criminal trial of the company managing director Aaron Vico, who is a nephew of the two complaining sisters, on a slew of fraud charges.
One of Cohen’s daughters, Amanda Cohen, had written to the Prosecutor-General Mr Kumbirai Hodzi seeking to institute private prosecution against Vico. The State had refused to prosecute Vico, citing lack of evidence.
Chief Law Officer in the Prosecutor General’s Office Mr Justin Uladi wrote to Ms Cohen through her laweyrs, Mabundu and Ndlovu Law Chambers, on November 25 telling her the request had been granted
The family had written to Mr Hodzi requesting a certificate to prosecute Vico on allegations of fraudulently divesting Cohen’s children of the bulk of their ownership of the company and taking over 80 percent of the shareholding.
Under Zimbabwean practice, almost all criminal prosecutions are undertaken by the State, but there is a provision for the PG to allow for private prosecution. A private prosecution is a criminal proceeding initiated by an individual citizen or private organisation instead of a public prosecutor.
Amanda Cohen was happy that the PG’s office accepted their request.
“I am delighted with the PG issuance with our private prosecution certificate,” she said. “Justice must prevail. This is a simple open and shut case with all in black and white.”
Another Cohen’s daughter Mrs Belynda Halfon said their efforts to have Vico prosecuted had become a nightmare and now they can bring him to court for trial.
Vico is being accused by Mr Cohen’s heirs of altering the company’s shareholding to exclude other shareholders following the death of Mr Cohen. The family alleges that Vico created new shares amounting to 80 percent of the company and allotted these to himself.
In her affidavit, Amanda, representing the family, stated that in terms of the company documents, Waverly Plastics shareholders are Debra Vico (33 percent), Amanda Cohen (33 percent), Belynda Halfon Nee Cohen (33 percent) and Stella Vicky Cohen (1 percent).
This brings the total number of shares allotted upon registration to 100 shares valued at US$1 each and these are the only issued shares listed in the company’s CR14, one of the registration documents.
The company was registered with a normal share capital of 500 shares valued at US$1 each, but only 100 shares were issued.
However, Ms Cohen claimed to have discovered that there was another registration document, a CR2, allegedly allotting the remaining 400 unissued shares, with 145 shares going to their late father and 255 shares allotted to Vico, their nephew and this, plus another letter the heirs say was forged, allots the 400 shares to Vico giving him 80 percent ownership of the company by granting the 145 to Vico as well.
Vico’s allegedly fraudulent CR2, said Amanda, in effect diluted their shares and they are now to be computed out of 500 instead of 100. As such she, who should own a 33 percent stake in Waverly Plastics, risked losing 26 percent and remaining with 6,6 percent.
Though Mr Cohen was instrumental in the registration and management of Waverly Plastics, Amanda said, he did not subscribe to any shares in the company and he did not place his name in the CR14 of the company.