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A CHINESE couple accused of fraudulently acquiring a local furniture company has been cleared although their Zimbabwean accomplice was not so fortunate.

Harare magistrate, Never Katiyo ruled that Zhaosheng Wu and Yan Yu had been taken advantage of by co-accused David Johannes Erasmus.

Erasmus, 58, was convicted and remanded in custody to April 26 for sentencing.

The court heard that back in 2002 Monomatapa Garden Furniture (MGF) directors, Fernando Dias and his daughter Rosalie agreed a deal with Shomet represented by the Chinese couple, to sell the company for US$500 000.

Shomet however, failed to pay for the shares by the November 2008 deadline.

The two parties then reached a compromise agreement reducing the figure to US$200 000 which was to be paid-off by December of the same year.

Still, the Chinese couple failed to pay forcing the MGF directors to cancel the agreement.

Prosecutors said Erasmus, who was then secretary for MFG, connived with the Chinese couple and signed a share certificate in favor of Shomet, allocating the couple 1,000 shares.

However the magistrate said the state had failed to prove its case against the Chinese couple who appeared to have been used by Erasmus in an elaborate scheme to swindle MFG owners.

"He took advantage of the fact that the other two accused can not understand English and so he went about forging documents and signatures," Katiyo said.

"Even though the couple tried to hide it from the court they were also victims but they worried more about losing the shares than telling the truth."

Katiyo also said a letter allegedly written by the MFG directors apparently handing over shares to the Chinese couple may have been forged by Erasmus.

“(Erasmus) who has been working with the complainant for a long time was aware of their signatures and could have forged them,” Katiyo said.


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