Model stuck in Russia . . . ‘looters’ pounce on properties in happier times . . . Mr Allen Gessen, Ms Priscilla Chigariro and their two children in Moscow, Russia

Daniel Nemukuyu Investigations and Special Reports Editor
BUSINESSWOMAN and model Priscilla Chigariro is stuck in Russia with her 10-month-old baby that does not have a birth certificate, while some people are reportedly busy looting her properties in Zimbabwe, The Herald can reveal.

Chigariro, the founder of Zimbabwe Fashion Week, who operates a number of businesses in Zimbabwe left the country for Moscow in 2016 to join her husband Mr Allen Gessen.

While in Moscow, Chigariro gave birth to a baby girl, but a misunderstanding arose between the two, prompting Mr Gessen to leave Russia before the baby girl acquired identity documents.

In terms of the Russian laws, Chigariro cannot leave Moscow until she acquires identity documents for the baby, neither can she leave the baby in the hands of another person.

This means she cannot come home to defend her property rights.

While she was “entrapped” in Moscow, Chigariro learnt through relatives that she had been stripped of directorship in Hopcik Investments (Pvt) Ltd that owns Number 3 Tynward Close, Ballantyne Park, Harare.

Chigariro’s folks who were occupying the Ballantyne Park property were recently evicted through a court order in which her husband was a defendant.

Effectively, she has lost ownership of the property.

During the said evictions, four vehicles registered under Mrs Chigariro’s name and the name of her company, Chrome Media, disappeared.

The businesswoman has since given her sister, Ms Ndaka Chigariro, power of attorney to represent her in all business transactions and legal processes.

According to documents seen by The Herald, Chigariro and Mr Gessen are said to have resigned as directors of Hopcik on June 20 this year, the time when she was stuck in Moscow.

They were replaced by Mr Gessen’s lawyer Mr Alex Mambosasa and Mr Nikolay Alexeev, who is a close ally of Mr Gessen.

Mr Mambosasa said the matter was still before the courts, before referring questions to Mr Gessen.

In an affidavit commissioned by the Embassy of Zimbabwe in Russia on September 9 this year, Chigariro denied ever resigning from Hopcik.

“I did not resign as a director of Hopcik Investments, company number 1621/2002,” she said. “In addition, I did not resign as a trustee from the Gessen Family Trust which is the shareholder of Hopcik Investments.

“I am currently unable to travel out of Russia because my husband Allen Gessen has blocked the issuing of our daughter’s birth certificate, making it impossible to get her a passport.

“He did this in order to make it almost impossible to protect my assets and property in Zimbabwe. He is currently being aided by his lawyer Alex Mambosasa who has already assumed directorship of Hopcik Investments, together with my husband’s personal assistant Nikolay Alexeev.”

Mr Gessen, commenting from United States, said the changes in Hopcik were above board. He said Chigariro was removed by shareholders.

“There is no inherent legal right to being a director,” said Mr Gessen. “In my position as one of the shareholder representatives, following normal legal procedure, we exercised the right to remove a director.”

Mr Gessen said there was no fraud in the changes made to the company.

“There is no fraud in the removal of Priscila Chigariro as a director for cause,” he said.

Company registry documents seen by The Herald shows that Chigariro resigned, not that she was removed.

Mr Gessen denied frustrating the process of acquiring a birth certificate for the baby girl, saying he was also trying his best to assist.

Meanwhile, three men, two of them, employees of one of Ms Chigariro’s companies, were on Wednesday arrested at Sam Levy shops in Borrowdale, Harare, while seated in one of the missing vehicles.

Chigariro, through her sister, had to hire private investigators who assisted the police in arresting the suspects.

This followed several failed attempts to have the suspects arrested, with the police reportedly dragging their feet.

Chigariro’s sister, Ndaka, had to approach the Commissioner-General of Police Godwin Matanga explaining her case after Highlands Police Station failed to act on several reports filed against suspected property looters.

The suspected vehicle thieves were on Wednesday detained at Borrowdale Police Station pending transfer to CID’s Vehicle Theft Squad (VTS).

At VTS, the suspects were released, but Ndaka appealed to the seniors in the police service, resulting in a more senior officer being assigned to handle the case.

The trio was driving a Toyota Noah van belonging to Ms Chigariro.

Another car, a Toyota Allion, was recovered from Harare’s central business district a few weeks ago.

Two other vehicles are yet to be recovered.

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