THE High Court has absolved local business tycoon Simon George Rudland, co-owner of Gold Leaf Tobacco Corporation, of any wrongdoing in a matter in which he was being accused of transferring his business counterpart’s four properties into his firms’ names following a botched US$1 million loan agreement. Rudland was freed recently by High Court judge Justice Happias Zhou who threw away the matter.
BY CHARLES LAITON
The co-founder of Pioneer Transport had been dragged to court by a local businessman, Future Chirango Muvirimi and his wife Petronella who were seeking reversal of the transferred up-market Harare properties.
In his declaration, Muvirimi alleged that Rudland did not advance to him the full US$1 million he had requested as loan but instead went ahead and attached his four properties which he (Muvirimi) had surrendered as surety.
Sometime in 2010, Muvirimi and his wife together with their companies namely; Leonfar Investments (Pvt) Ltd, Downtown Petroleum Investments (Pvt) Ltd and Deepstar Investments (Pvt) Ltd issued summons against Ramsway Investments (Pvt) Ltd, Rudland, Leathout Investments (Pvt) Ltd, Foreghin (Pvt) Ltd, Gameso Investments (Pvt) Ltd, Metwax Properties (Pvt) Ltd and Mark Richard Stonier seeking among other things, a declaration that the acknowledgement of debt which he executed in his personal capacity and on behalf of his companies was null and void and of no force and effect.
In the same summons Muvirimi also sought an order for the reversal of the transfer of the four properties and payment of US$255 500 as damages for alleged loss of income together with interest. He insisted that the transfers were done without due process being followed.
However, Rudland and his firms objected to Muvirimi’s claim on the basis that it was prescribed at the time that the summons was served and also maintained that the acknowledgement of debt signed by Muvirimi was valid and binding and that the full US$1 million was actually advanced, contrary to Muvirimi’s assertions.
Rudland further maintained that the properties were validly transferred pursuant to an agreement between the parties and thus he made an application for absolution from the instance at the close of Muvirimi’s case, which application was granted by Justice Zhou.
“…The claim is founded on alleged fraud and breach of contract, all of which took place in 2010 according to evidence led on behalf of the plaintiffs (Muvirimi and his firms). It is common cause that the summons in the present case was served on the defendant (Rudland and his firms) on November 17, 2015. This is all based on the evidence of the plaintiff. The period of three years had elapsed when the summons was served,” Justice Zhou said.
“No real purpose will be served by placing the defendants on their defence merely to confirm that which the plaintiff’s witness has already stated in relation to when the cause of action arose.
For these reasons, based on the prescription of the debt, absolution from the instance is warranted…thus given that the plaintiffs are seeking reversion of ownership which has passed they were enjoined by law to claim it within three years from the date that the cause of action arose…their claim has, therefore, prescribed,” he said while dismissing Muvirimi’s claim with costs.