The government of the Republic of Zimbabwe has launched a lawsuit to claim ownership of a Tai Po luxury home that was reportedly bought by a middleman before the daughter of the country's president started university studies in Hong Kong.
In a High Court writ, the government, led by President Robert Mugabe, is suing businessman Hsieh Ping-sung and a company, Cross Global.
In 2009, the media reported that Mugabe splashed out HK$40 million in June 2008 for the three-storey home at JC Castle, an upmarket development along Shan Tong Road developed by Albert Yeung Sau-shing's Emperor Group and named after action star Jackie Chan.
Reports at the time suggested the house was bought through Hsieh, who was acting on behalf of the Mugabes, months before their daughter began studies at the University of Hong Kong.
It was reported that Hsieh used a company to buy the property, but sources in Zimbabwe said the Mugabes held a controlling interest in the house.
Hsieh was the sole shareholder of Cross Global in 2010, Companies Registry filings show. On January 29, 2010, Cross Global sold the house to Hsieh for HK$40 million - the same price at which it bought the house in 2008 - Land Registry records show.
In the writ, the Zimbabwean government says Cross Global is holding the property for it in trust. It is asking the court to declare it has a "100 per cent beneficial interest" in the property and to order Cross Global and Hsieh to transfer the property to it.
It also wants the court to void the 2010 transfer of the property between Cross Global and Hsieh.
Filings show Hsieh on June 29, 2010, transferred all his shares in Cross Global to Johan Carel Nel, a South African national.