Home » Judicial » SA Firm Sues Gono Over U.S $2,2 Million

Former Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe Governor Dr Gideon Gono has been sued over a $2,2 million debt at the High Court arising from his company Lunar Chickens barely two weeks after Oasis Motors approached the same court over a $1,5 million debt.

This brings the lawsuits facing Dr Gono at the High Court over his failure to pay debts to $3,7 million.

In the latest case, a South African company, ASP Marketing CC, alleged that Dr Gono, who is the director of Lunar Chickens, entered into various agreements for the supply of tonnes of maize and soya beans that would be used to produce feed for the poultry business.

Lunar Chickens did not pay for the delivery, resulting in ASP Marketing approaching the High Court for an order compelling the poultry firm to settle the debt.

A fortnight ago, Dr Gono made headlines over failure to pay a $1,5 million debt to Oasis Motors for vehicles he purchased for Lunar Chickens staff in 2010.

ASP director Ms Alida Aletta Craukamp deposed a founding affidavit chronicling how Dr Gono entered into the agreements for maize and soya beans deliveries and ended up failing to pay.

Ms Craukamp said her company was in the business of purchasing and selling agricultural products like maize, soya beans and maize bags.

Dr Gono, according to Ms Craukamp, met ASP officials at his New Donnington Farm in Norton and they sealed a deal for the supply of maize to Lunar Chickens at the price of $395 per metric tonne.

Each delivery, according to the agreement, would be separately invoiced and payment would be done by telegraphic transfer within 60 days from the date of presentation of the invoice.

Between December 2009 and May 2010, ASP delivered to Dr Gono 2 209,72mt of white maize at the agreed price.

Lunar Chickens also signed another agreement in which it received 2 966,07mt of soya beans at the price of $495 per mt between June and July 2010 from ASP.

Several other consignments of grain were delivered to Lunar Chickens, but Dr Gono failed to comply with the payment agreements, resulting in the matter spilling into the courts.

In respect of maize deliveries, ASP issued and presented its invoices to Lunar Chickens, but payment was not done within the stipulated 60-day period. For soya beans deliveries, the deadline for payment was end of August 2010.

ASP officials met Dr Gono in South Africa in 2011 and he undertook to pay the debt with interest.

In the same year, Dr Gono acknowledged the debt and paid $140 000, leaving a balance of more than $2,2 million.

Despite demand, Dr Gono has refused or failed to pay the debt, it is alleged.

Responding to the application, Lunar Chickens chief executive officer Mr Velenjani Lupankwa argued that ASP had adopted the wrong route in claiming the debt.

He submitted that Clause 14 of the parties’ agreement stated that disputes of breach of contract should be referred for arbitration in South Africa and not the local High Court.

Mr Lupankwa argued that the agreement relied upon was an illegal one as it infringed Section 11 of the Exchange Control regulations of 1996.

The company argued that no exchange control authority had been obtained to allow Lunar Chickens to send monies outside the country and that the High Court cannot be asked to sanction an illegality.

Lunar Chickens argued that ASP being a foreign company, failed to pay security of costs rendering the application fatal.

Lunar Chickens also argued that ASP sued the wrong party as it dealt with New Donnington Farm (Pvt) Ltd and RT Feeds in the agreements.

It was also stated in the opposing papers that the three-year period stipulated under the Prescription Act as the period in which a claim may be made had since lapsed and that the claim must be dismissed.

Litigation, according to Lunar Chickens, ought to have been instituted at least by July 25, 2013.

Lunar Chickens also argued that the maize and soya beans were imported without paying customs duty.

Dr Gono, according to Lunar Chickens, had no authority to act on behalf of the company when he dealt with ASP, hence the company that was sued had nothing to do with the case.

Lunar Chickens denied ever dealing with ASP, urging the court to dismiss the application with costs.

Source : The Herald