A city lawyer, Salim Suleman Desai, and an estate agent last Friday appeared in court accused of duping a United Kingdom-based businessman of $227 000 in a botched five-hectare land sale during the Zimbabwe dollar era.
The estate agent, Laws Organisation, represented by its director, Ray Walbridge (80), is jointly charged with Desai (58). They are facing theft by conversion charges. Walbridge’s defence counsel, Advocate Zvikomborero Chadambuka, applied to have the matter postponed saying Desai had instructed Advocate Thabani Mpofu to represent him.
Prosecutor Mr Timothy Makoni opposed a postponement saying the complainant, Mr Guy David Morris, travelled from UK on a £2 200 plane ticket. Harare magistrate Mr Elijah Makomo ruled that the accused were summoned to court in October and had ample time to prepare for trial.
Trial starts today. It is alleged that sometime in September 2004 Morris decided to sell his 5 7013- hectare property. The court heard that the land is Subdivision A of Fishermore Extension also known as 3B Umwinsidale Road, Harare, held under Deed of Transfer No. 7558/1991.
It is alleged Morris engaged Walbridge to market, negotiate and sell the property. Morris also engaged Desai to do conveyance, the court heard. The property was sold to ZESA Holdings for ZW$1,5 billion, which was fully paid into Desai’s CBZ Bank trust account. The property was subsequently transferred into ZESA’s name.
It is alleged Desai paid Capital Gains Tax of ZW$150 million and deducted his 5 percent commission of ZW$75 million. Morris was supposed to get ZW$1 274 500 000 from the sale of the property.
It is alleged Walbridge and Desai connived to swindle Morris by converting his share to their personal use. The court heard that Morris contacted the pair who subsequently became evasive. Later it is alleged Desai claimed he had paid Morris by cheque through the estate agent.
On realising that he was duped Morris reported the matter to the police. He lost ZW$1 274 500 000, equivalent to $227 000. Herald