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Elizabeth Zhong homicide: Lawyer complained of ‘scene’ caused by company dispute

3 min read

A group of people involved in business dealings with the late Ying Zhong have rejectedsome of her assertions in a legal dispute last year.

Zhong, known as Elizabeth, was found dead on November 28 in her Land Rover in Sunnyhills, east Auckland.

Detective Inspector Shaun Vickers said Zhong, 55, was subject to a violent attack in her home.

Zhong’s business activities in recent years included holdings in the Sunbow entities and interests in film and viticulture enterprises.

An apparent dispute last year over control of Sunbow Ltd has been outlined in legal documents supplied to the Herald.

A statement of claim filed against Zhong on August 6 last year pitted Sunbow Group Ltd, Sunbow Investment Ltd, and another Auckland woman against Zhong and Sunbow Ltd.

The statement of claim said another man lent Zhong $6 million in March 2016, and gave her a year-and-half to repay the loan.

But in about November 2016, Zhong informed the lender she was unable to repay the term loan.

The court document claimed that as a compromise, the lender agreed to accept 18 million shares of Sunbow Limited from Zhong into a family trust.

It was claimed these shares were worth $9 million and 60 per cent of the company.

The court document said Zhong had been the lender’s “trusted adviser” and she was made the sole shareholder of Sunbow Group.

It was also claimed Zhong approved the deal but had breached her duty back in 2016 to promptly enter a share transfer.

The claim argued it was just and equitable for the High Court to record Zhong as 16 per cent shareholder, not 76 per cent shareholder.

The statement of claim outlined a series of director’s resolutions and share transfers.

The claimants or plaintiffs claimed Zhong had breached Companies Act rules by removing references to two men as Sunbow Limited company directors.

Further disputes emerged over allegations Zhong failed to enter a share transfer on Sunbow Limited’s share register.

The disagreements led to claims the other parties in the dispute couldn’t exercise their majority shareholder rights.

But earlier last year, some of Zhong’s assertions were outlined in an affidavit her accountant filed.

The accountant said three men visited him when Zhong was in China and showed him what appeared to be a share transfer document.

“I informed them that [Zhong] was away in China and that I did not have any authority to make the changes.”

The accountant told the High Court he then learned changes were made to Sunbow Limited’s records on the Companies Office website.

About three weeks after the affidavit was filed, a lawyer then representing Zhong claimed a dispute had fostered apparent uncertainty as to who had control over the company.

The lawyer complained of a “scene” being caused and said the dispute caused everyone involved to incur unnecessary legal costs.

“We are of the view that there is no lack of clarity as to who is the director or majority shareholder of Sunbow Ltd – that person is Ying Zhong.”


In an injunction in October last year, Justice Grant Powell said Zhong could not unconditionally sell or allow the sale of a Kumeu property or her house on Suzetta Place, Sunnyhills.

Justice Powell said the properties could only be sold after an independent valuation, and at market value.

The High Court judge cited obligations the Sunbow companies had to Inland Revenue, to private lenders DBR Limited, and to the Bank of New Zealand.

The injunction also dictated how Zhong was to “promptly” sell Kennedy Point winery on Waiheke and the Carrick winery in Otago.

Zhong was also restrained from allowing dividend payments from any Sunbow companies but was allowed, if funds were available, to take a monthly salary of $8333.

Zhong was banned from selling any of the Carrick Wines or Kennedy Point wine inventory, except in the ordinary course of business.

Other significant assets Justice Powell discussed included the shares in post-production and visual effects company Digipost and a commercial property in Epsom.

On October 30 this year, Sunbow Ltd was put in receivership.

A case between one Sunbow entity and Zhong was scheduled to be heard at the High Court in Auckland on December 15.

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