A Harare tycoon’s children might have lost control of at least 13 companies after a relative allegedly forged their signatures on registration documents following his death in 2017 amid suspicion of corrupt activities at the Registrar of Companies.
Victor Cohen, who was the founder of textile giant Waverley Blankets, had made two of his daughters Amanda Berkowitz and Belynda Halfon, directors in his several companies.
Cohen was also founder of Con Textiles, which was liquidated.
Berkowitz and Halfon are now fighting in the courts to regain control of Waverley Blankets after it was allegedly taken over by their relative, Aron Vico allegedly through fraudulent means.
The sisters said a search at the Registrar of Companies revealed that 12 other companies namely Blankets for Africa, Waverley Plastics, Colourfast Textiles and Printers, SpunBond, Gallimard Fashions, Tatendarana, Centracom, Ram Inv, Ordin Trading, Saelate, Inverneil and Keepline Trading had changed ownership without their knowlege.
Berkowitz said it took her at least a month to get information about the status of the companies from the Registrar of Companies and to her shock, most of the documents had allegedly been tampered with.
Halfon said the hostile takeover of Cohen’s companies had destroyed their late father’s legacy.
“We trusted our nephew Vico as our father did. “Whilst we were shareholders we voted him as the companies’ managing director,” she said.
“We congratulated him and told him to do a good job for us.
“After a year I thought he was doing fine after our father’s death.
“We were surprised when we found out that he was fraudulently hiding and changing documents of several companies.”
Halfon said since their father’s death they had not been receiving any dividends from the business empire.
The two sisters used to own half of Waverley Blankets shares and two thirds of Waverley Plastics before Vico allegedly took over the companies.
“When I started asking questions after a year of my father’s death I was warned and told I would face consequences,” Halfon added.
“Vico then did a hostile take-over and took me off as director for asking and clearly this was not my dad’s wish as he would never put us as honest directors in the first place
“They have taken Amanda’s flat in Cape Town which my father bought for her and was supposed to be transferred into her name but Vico’s mother Debra, who is their sister wants to charge Amanda rent back-dated.”
She said Cohen also had a school in Chitungwiza, which was now neglected.
Berkowitz said the documents showed that their father’s companies only had $5 000 in their accounts when he died.
“They conspired to steal all our shares and we never found any cent so far when we own the companies,” she added.
Berkowitz said she reported the matter to the police a year ago but nothing was done about it.
“It took a month for the documents to be found and we are seeking to send all the documents for forensic examination because we feel that they were manufactured to suit their intentions,” she said.
A handwriting expert who examined some of the documents reportedly concluded that signatures on Blanket Africa and Colour Fast Textiles registration papers were doctored.
Vico could not be reached for comment as his mobile phone was unreachable.
Berkowitz said after her father’s death she was only given an old exercise book machine which was bought in the 80s and Halfon got nothing. – The Standad