Pair up for US$750k property fraud

Prosper Dembedza Herald Correspondent

A DIRECTOR at Southchoice Investments and her accomplice have appeared in court on allegations of defrauding a Chinese businessman of US$750 000 in a botched residential stand deal.

The complainant, Dong Ye, is based in China.

Elizabeth Simpson (53) and Cephas Masuka (41), who is a legal clerk at Matsika Legal Practitioners, appeared before Harare magistrate Feresi Chakanyuka who granted them US$100 bail each.

The two will return to court on June 5 for routine remand pending further investigations.

It is the State’s case that sometime in July 2020, Dong told his friend Sun Jiabao, who is based in Zimbabwe, that he wanted to invest in the country.

The court heard that Dong was linked to Sun Peng, another Chinese national who was in Zimbabwe at that time, who advised him of investment programmes under Terran Resource and Africa China Mining Private Limited .

Dong contacted Sun Peng and was advised that he could invest in mining and was promised huge returns. It is alleged that the complainant became interested in the deal, but later decided to purchase a residential property in Zimbabwe and was advised to pay US$750 000.

The court heard that he approached Pam Golding Estate agents where Simpson was employed as a sales agent and she facilitated the purchase of Number 6 Norman Road, Highlands, Harare on August 1, 2020.

The property was registered in Dong’s name under Deed of Transfer number 3575/2020 .

Dong later learnt that Sun was arrested in Papua New Guinea for fraud cases involving money he collected in China as investment funds.

Dong then instructed his friend Sun Jiabao to check on the status of his stand and was advised that the property was no longer in his name.

The court heard that Dong carried out investigations and discovered that on November 11, 2021, the accused persons prepared a fraudulent special power of attorney which was purportedly signed by Dong.

The fraudulent special power of attorney nominated and appointed Masuka to donate complainant’s property to Southchoice Investments, represented by Simpson.

On the strength of the fraudulent document, Dong’s property was transferred to Southchoice Investments under deed of transfer 5213/2021 on December 15, 2021 as a donation.

It is the State’s case that Dong’s property was later sold to Chi Yingdang under title deed number 1682/22 on March 25, 2022.

As a result of the fraudulent act, Dong lost a total of US$750 000 and nothing was recovered.

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