THE trial of Harare businessman and property developer Georgios Katsimberis, in which he is facing fraud allegations of nearly US$1 million, commenced at the Harare Magistrates' Courts Friday.
Katsimberis is accused of duping Pokugara Properties close to US$1 million in a joint venture to build cluster houses in the upmarket Borrowdale suburb.
However, through his lawyer, Tendai Biti, the businessman argued the case was a shareholder dispute, which cannot be criminalised. Biti submitted that facts of the state do not disclose a criminal offence.
Katsimberis had applied for the matter to be referred to the Constitutional Court, but his application was turned down by Harare Magistrate Letwin Rwodzi.
Biti also submitted there was no complainant in the matter because his client financed the construction of the showroom which was later demolished by City of Harare last year.
Biti also accused the city council of illegally destroying the US$300 000 showroom without a court order.
"You don't take the law into your own hands. How do you destroy a US$300 000 house without a court order? This is the criminalisation of a private commercial dispute," he told court.
However, Prosecutor Michael Reza insisted Katsimberis had misrepresented facts to the other part causing prejudice.
"If his misrepresentation causes prejudice to another person or is potentially prejudicial to another person, he must know that even potential prejudice is a crime," Reza said.
Reza said the joint venture agreement involved land with 13 residential stands valued at US$800 000, and that was the prejudice suffered by the unnamed complainant.
The state alleges Katsimberis built the showroom without an approved Harare City Council plan and did not use recommended construction material.
Reza added the plan submitted in court as exhibit had no signature of Harare City's chief building inspector, and a witness was going to nail Katsimberis.
"It was him who entered into this joint agreement and his initials appear on every page. He made undertaking knowing that he had no intention to meet his obligations.
"We agreed that he built the showroom, but it was built with non-quality material and without approved building plan. So, we must leave this to honourable court to determine who is right," Reza said.
The trial continues July 6, 2021.