HARARE – A Hong Kong investor lost over $68 million he invested in various sectors of the economy more than a decade ago, after his agent failed to account for the money.
Wong Shu Wai, a billionaire and owner of Fok Hing International Limited (FHIL), assigned Lui Cheng Shiao to come to Zimbabwe, as his agent and employee, to scout for investment opportunities. Lui successfully registered eight companies in various sectors such as agriculture, construction, engineering and textile.
He was given $68 million and 15 years on, Wong has not received any return on the investment. He has now approached the High Court seeking to recover his money and all the economic benefits realised by his nine companies operating in the country.
Wong, his wife Tsoi Yu Yu and FHIL are listed as plaintiffs while Lui and his wife Luang Shen and the nine companies they registered here are cited as respondents in the high-profile civil suit. Wong stated in his court papers that Lui betrayed him when he refused to account to his family the investment he made in Zimbabwe.
The Wong family wants an order compelling Lui to explain how funds that were transferred to “respondents were utilised, clearly dealing with how, when, by whom and for what purposes the amounts received were used”.
“. . . An account of the financial performance of the third to 10th defendants (all the nine companies cited in the suit) from the first year of trading to the current year,” said Wong who has won another case against Lui in Hong Kong.
Further, the Wong family wants Lui to be forced to render a statement of net worth of Gold Driven Investments (Pvt) Ltd and Golden Manor Property (Pvt) Ltd from the year 2000 up to the current year.
In addition, the Wong family wants payment of what the debatement reveals is owed to them plus 5 percent interest from the date of summons to the date of full and final settlement of the debt.
The dispute spilled into the High Court after the Wong family disbursed $68 million to Lui between 2000 and 2012 on the understanding that money would be invested in the nine companies cited in the summons.
According to the deal, the companies would be funded by shareholders with the Wong family injecting up to 70 percent of the start-up and working capital for the companies. Up to 30 percent shareholding of the companies would be subscribed by locals.
The agreement, according to Wong, was underpinned by trust, confidence and utmost good faith with the family under the impression that Lui would judiciously manage the investments.
“The plaintiffs were also under the impression that the first defendant would transparently account to the plaintiffs on the periodic status of the investment, including, but not limited to, providing plaintiffs with the companies’ financial reports,” said Wong.
He said the agreement also enjoined Lui to make available for inspection all the financial records of the companies, some of which are statutory in terms of the laws of Zimbabwe.
Wong further stated that by virtue of his investment in Zimbabwe and the underlying agreement between the two meant they are in a fiduciary relationship. To this end, Wong said, Lui was obliged to give an account to him and fellow shareholders and major investors in the companies on their performance.
Wong said as it stands, FHIL cannot ascertain the true status of their investment in Zimbabwe because the person entrusted to handle it had refused to cooperate with them.