BY WINSTONE ANTONIO
THE late tycoon Victor Cohen’s two daughters have obtained a certificate for a private prosecution against Waverley Blankets managing director Aaron Vico whom they accuse of fraudulently wresting the firm away from them using fake documents.
The daughters, Amanda Berkowitz and Belynda Halfon are embroiled in a long-drawn legal battle against Vico who allegedly fraudulently took control of the company and its subsidiaries following the death of their father.
They turned to private prosecution after seeing that their efforts for a public prosecution were being frustrated.
The state refused to prosecute Vico citing lack of evidence.
They have also written to President Emmerson Mnangagwa seeking his intervention to no avail.
While almost all criminal prosecutions are undertaken by the State, a private prosecution is a criminal proceeding initiated by an individual citizen or private organisation instead of a public prosecutor.
The first ever private prosecution in Zimbabwe saw former Bikita West legislator Munyaradzi Kereke being jailed for raping his 11-year-old niece in 2016.
Now that Chief Law Officer in the Prosecutor General’s Office Justin Uladi wrote to Cohen through her lawyers, Mabundu and Ndlovu Law Chambers, on November 25 notifying her that request had been granted, Vico is now set to stand a criminal trial.
Vico is accused of fraudulently altering the company’s shareholding and changing company documents with the help of corrupt employees at the Registrar of Companies to exclude other shareholders following Cohen’s death.
The deceased family alleges that Vico created new shares amounting to 80% of the company and allocated these to himself.
Cohen’s daughters claim the same fraudulent documents that were proved fake by forensic specialists were used to change the ownership of the company and to open new bank accounts.
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).
Cohen told NewsDay yesterday that she was hoping for justice to prevail after the issuance of the private prosecution certificate.
“We had reported the fraudulent activities at the police and National Prosecution Authority (NPA) after discovering fake documents and it has been more than a year without action as we battled efforts to have Vico prosecuted. Justice must prevail now,” she said.
“Vico is using his political connections to plunder our late father’s estate. We are just trying hard to get justice but we were consistently blocked in such a way that Vico was favoured even if we had proof of evidence.”
Some cases that have been opened against Vico with the police under criminal numbers CID CCD HC CR377/03/19 for Waverley Plastics and another case for companies namely Erica, Blankets for Africa, Colourfast Textiles and Printers.
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