BY DESMOND CHINGARANDE
The Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (Zacc) has started investigations into the alleged fraudulent take-over of various companies belonging to the late Waverley Blankets founder.
Aron Vico, the current Waverley MD, has been accused of changing ownership of companies owned by Victor Cohen soon after the businessman’s death in 2017.
The Waverley boss is now embroiled in a company ownership wrangle with Cohen’s daughters.
Zacc issued a series of warrants of search and seizure on June 26 against Vico to recover some of the documents used to acquire the companies and the properties without the knowledge of other shareholders.
The documents are suspected to be fake and fraudulently manufactured.
Harare magistrate Judith Taruvinga said there were reasonable grounds to believe “that the managing director or any other person in authority at Tanrest Trading Pvt Ltd, Graniteside, Harare,” is in possession of “documents, records and articles which are required as exhibits in a criminal docket and that it is necessary for the purpose of investigating or detecting a case of fraud”.
Tanrest, Centracom and Gallimard Fashions were ordered to provide “records and articles to the peace officers and other officers of the law who are bearers of this warrant, certified copies of signed shareholders’ minutes and resolutions of meetings that were held to effect changes in directorship and share ownership in respect of the companies”.
Zacc also requested copies of CR14, CR6 and CR2 forms of all the companies, receipts issued by the Registrar of Companies for fees paid to effect changes in directorship for all the companies and any documentation in relation to the changes in directorship and share ownership.
Vico is accused by the late businessman Cohen’s children, Amanda Berkowitz and Belinda Halfon, of fraudulently changing ownership of their father’s empire for his benefit without their knowledge. The two have been frozen out and have not received a cent along with other lawful shareholders.
Vico is also accused of forging signatures of the two sisters to change the company shareholdings and to steal their shareholding percentages.
Berkowitz and Halfon were major partners in Waverley Blankets, Waverley Plastics and Centracom to name a few among a host of companies owned by the late businessman, but Vico and his accomplices allegedly fraudulently changed the documents for their own gain.
The sisters have been to the courts on several occasions concerning a fraudulent allotment of an extra 400 shares and a purportedly fraudulent CR14 which Vico used to take over Waverley Plastics.
In other cases, after finding that their signatures were forged, the sisters approached leading forensic handwriting experts to prove the fraud.
Vico, however, has been trying to stop Zacc from instituting investigations into the matter by denying that he was the director of the companies mentioned.