Judge dresses down businessman in company ownership row

HARARE – High Court judge Jacob Manzunzu has taken a swipe at businessman Ofer Sivan for approaching his court “with dirty hands” in a case in which the latter is involved in a row with partners over shareholding of Adlecraft Investments.

Sivan is seeking to remove his business partners Gilad Shabtai and Munyaradzi Gonyora as shareholders in the company claiming that he is the sole shareholder.

The parties have been in and out of the courts as the battle for company control took centre stage.

In a recent judgment, Justice Manzunzu chastised Sivan for having brought false information before his court.

The judge dismissed the businessman’s application ruling he was not the sole shareholder of the company.

“The applicant cannot pretend to play a smart game and leave the matter in the hands of the respondents alone,” said Justice Manzunzu.

“The respondents label him a liar who must not be believed. The documents which the applicant now distances himself from were actually executed under his hand.

“Litigants must be warned and must know that you can only sail through these courts if you are truthful.

“If you want to lose the confidence of these courts, then adopt a chameleonic behavior.”

Manzunzu said it was in fact Sivan himself who gave out information about the shareholding of the company to the Zimbabwe Investment Centre but was now demanding that they should prove its authenticity.

“One cannot approbate and reprobate, blowing hot and cold has no space in the courts,” ruled the judge.

“It was the duty of the applicant (Sivan), as the author and/or co-author of the documents, to reveal the truth behind them. The applicant cannot say the documents were a forgery when his signature sits there. Forged by who, for what purpose?

“Sivan prepared his own cake and he must eat it.

“When the applicant disputes that the first and second respondents (Shabtai and Gonyora) are not shareholders, it means he lied to ZIA that they were.

“An investment license was issued on the strength of the information which Sivan supplied which he now wants to dissociate with.

“There is a plethora of cases where the courts have condemned the evidence of a litigant who is economical with the truth.”

The judge then declared that Sivan was not a sole shareholder of Adlecraft Investments.

He said Sivan could not in the circumstances interdict Shabtai and Gonyora from presenting themselves as holding equity in Adlecraft Investments.

Sivan alleges fellow directors Shabtai and Gonyora whom he included into his company, fraudulently took out US$1.3 million from the company after opening an account with a microfinance institution and laundered it.

He is alleged to have acquired Adlecraft Investments in 2011, becoming its executive director and sole shareholder with the responsibility of running its affairs.

In response, Shabtai and Gonyora denied that Sivan was the sole shareholder of the company.

They successfully argued that during the period, there were indigenisation laws that did not allow foreigners like him to own 100% shareholding in a registered company.

Adlecraft Holdings holds 49% of the shareholding in Adlecraft Investments whilst Gonyora owns 10% shareholding in the same company.

Shabtai in turn possessed 70% of Adlecraft Holdings which has 49% in Adlecraft Investments, share structure which was presented to ZIA when the company applied for an investment licence.

The two also argued that the structure remained unchanged and any contrary position would have been a misrepresentation to ZIA.

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