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Business tycoon feels betrayed

Zimbabwean police in February issued an international arrest warrant for Buyanga arguing that he had to return to the country to face charges laid against him.
Buyanga allegedly swindled over 500 property owners in Zimbabwe, among them, prominent politicians, individuals and businesspeople, through his money lending business, Hamilton Properties Holdings.

“I have not been served with any warrant; I think that’s standard procedure,” said Buyanga, in a telephone interview from South Africa. “I am not aware of any arrest warrant formally issued against me.”

The AG’s office recently said it would make an application for separation of trial in order to charge his company for a plethora of criminal offences including fraud, forgery, theft, contravention of the Capital Gains Tax Act and money laundering.

Buyanga told Standardbusiness that summons are not issued in newspapers but through proper legal channels, describing officers from the police and AG’s office pursuing his case as “Mickey Mouse individuals seeking to get promotion at work”.

He said his company has over 500 properties in its possession and has successfully conducted business over the years, adding that “only 40 individuals who failed to meet their end of the contractual agreements were disgruntled; that’s why you hear all this noise”.

The value of the properties is estimated to be over US$4 million. “It’s only a small percentage of people who are complaining. Why should I be afraid to come back and do business in Zimbabwe? I own well over 500 properties there,” said Buyanga.

“I’m currently well-represented in Zimbabwe and will visit the country when and if the need arises. My absence from Zimbabwe has no effect on my business interests. Moreover, my executive role was largely reduced in 2010, when I decided to concentrate on interests in other jurisdictions outside Zimbabwe.”

A pre-condition for access to finance would be that loan applicants would surrender title deeds to their properties, as well as other sureties, including vehicles as collateral security.

They would “buy back” the properties or assets at a higher price. What this meant is that after selling the properties or assets, it was now up to the seller to find the money to re-purchase the said properties or assets.

Out of their own volition on video camera, recipients would sign agreements of sale documents, giving his company powers of attorney and an eviction notice which were to be used in the event that they failed to settle their debts.

Questioned on the legality of contracts that people signed, Buyanga said they were above board. “I would think it’s a standard agreement. The contracts that the clients sign are in compliance with the country’s laws and regulations.”

Buyanga has been accused of fronting for businessman, Nicholas van Hoogstraten. However, he has in the past admitted his links to van Hoogstraten insisting that the property magnate is his friend, mentor and advisor.

Despite police saying they are looking for him, Buyanga has been wining and dining with prominent politicians on the continent and was a guest to Equatorial Guinea President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo last year.

Buyanga intimated that “plots” to seize his business interests were institutional and would be difficult to deal with. He said tax collector, the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra) had refused to issue his company with a Capital Gains Tax certificate for reasons unknown to him.

“When I learnt of this I advised that the case be taken to court and eventually Zimra was ordered to issue the Capital Gains Tax certificate. I should add that payments of over US$250 000 have in the past been made to Zimra by Hamilton Property Holdings and subsidiary companies through Karuwa and Associates where Capital Gains Certificates are still outstanding and in due course this issue will need to be resolved,” Buyanga said.

 

Courts to decide on Buyanga’s fate

 

Chief Law Officer at AG’s office, Chris Mutangadura, said although police had since submitted a docket, the matter was now up to the courts to decide. “We are not guided by media reports but follow procedure. In this case, the complainant is the victim, but why should the legality of the contracts be brought up yet he or she knew that they would contest the contract later. Obviously, such a complainant becomes suspect,” he said.

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