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Allegedly Fraudster ‘Ken Sharpe’ Back In Court For Fraudulent Land Transfer Deal

Controversial Tycoon Ken Sharpe in Zimbabwe's Greatest Land Heist

The trial of Local Government Minister July Moyo, who is accused of usurping the Prosecutor-authority General’s by signing a contentious settlement document that gave enormous swaths of state land to a land baron, is ready to begin.

On May 28, 2019, Moyo, Harare City Council, and Augur fraudulently entered into an agreement and signed a ‘dirty’ settlement deed that granted immunity from prosecution to Augur Investment, a company owned by land baron Ken Sharpe, in an attempt to end the land war between the local authority and Sharpe’s companies.

Sharpes’ assistant Tatiana Aleshina and their colleagues, Michael Van Blerk and Alexander Sheremet, reportedly received criminal immunity as part of the settlement agreement.

Fairclot, a firm that Sharpe subcontracted to build the Harare International Airport and alleges it has not been paid, has challenged the settlement agreement.

Sharpe handed over a portion of property, 654 Pomona as security after failing to pay Fairclot, and the title deed for the land is held in escrow by Coghlan, Welsh, and Guest. However, the land was transferred to Doorex, a shelf business controlled by Sharpe, when Sharpe paid Fairclot ZWL$4.8 million shortly after the gazetting of SI33 in 2019.

Fairclot is contesting the payment, asking payment in US dollars, and the issue is pending before the High Court. Fairclot posted a poster urging potential house buyers not to acquire stands from the disputed 654 Pomona.

Sharpe, through West Properties, responded by reporting Allan and Grant Russel, the owners of Fairclot, and Paragon Printers for criminal nuisance. He also claimed US$20 million in claims against the trio.

But pre-trial minutes dated 23 November has now disclosed that the matter will proceed to trial and will seek to resolve several questions, among them, the validity of the deed of settlement. The pre-trial conference was before Justice David Mangota.

“Whether or not Doorex properties lawfully acquired title to stand 654 Pomona township in that (a) whether or not deed of settlement executed in May 2019 was legal (b) whether or not Justice Esther Muremba’s judgement is extant,” the minutes read in part.

“Whether or not Stand 654 Pomona Township could have been transferred without the authority of the President of the Republic of Zimbabwe and in the absence of settlement of what was due to the defendants, namely payment of US$ 4.800 000.”

The trial will also determine whether the billboard was defamatory and whether it caused any loss to West Properties.

“Whether it was wrongful for the defendants to put the billboard and whether it is legally competent for the plaintiff to claim delictual damages for loss of business. If so, did the plaintiff suffer any damages?”

The deed of settlement has also been challenged by property developer George Katsimberis, who has approached the High Court seeking to have the criminal immunity granted to Augur, a company registered in Ukraine, Estonia or Mauritius with extensive interests in Zimbabwe withdrawn, arguing that it violates provisions of the constitution.

He claims that the deed of settlement has shielded Augur from any prosecution and argues that the “clandestine” criminal immunity given to Augur was blocking the court from hearing his complaint against Moyo, Augur and Aleshina, a Ukrainian national with permanent residence in Zimbabwe as well as Pokugara Properties owned by Sharpe.

He wants the court to grant him private prosecution if Mutsonziwa is not willing to prosecute them.

Following the signing of the agreement of settlement, the city of Harare handed land, stand 654 Pomona, to Augur for the airport road building project.

Harare North MP Norman Markham has also contested the settlement agreement, which Sharpe argues is lawful since it has been recorded with the court. Fairclot, Markham, and Katsimberis, he contends, lack locus standi to dispute the deed. After all of the cases were dismissed on technicalities, this will be the first time the deed will be tried on merit.

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