The notorious property tycoon Nicholas van Hoogstraten has been arrested in Zimbabwe on charges of breaking the troubled country’s currency exchange laws and possessing pornography.
The move is being seen in some quarters as part of a plan by Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe to seize his once close supporter’s multi-million-pound business empire, which spans mining, tourism and property interests.
Police detained Van Hoogstraten after a raid on his home last Thursday, charging him with collecting rent on his properties in foreign currency. Zimbabwean law prohibits the payment of foreign currency for local goods and services.
…Van Hoogstraten’s arrest is the latest in a long line of clashes with the law. In the Sixties Van Hoogstraten – who has referred to his tenants as ‘scum’ – was jailed for four years for arranging for a hand grenade to be thrown through the window of someone who owed him money. In 2002 he was convicted of manslaughter and sentenced to 10 years in jail after a business associate, Mohammed Raja, was shot and killed by two hired hitmen. He appealed against the conviction, which was overturned in 2003. In 2005 a civil court ordered that Van Hoogstraten pay the murdered man’s family £6m in damages.
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