4 Dec 2020

Zhong's businesses were listed for sale, placed into receivership in last 18 months

2:29 pm on 4 December 2020

By Kate Gregan

An Auckland businesswoman ran into financial difficulties with her three businesses in the 18 months before her suspected murder.

Elizabeth Zhong

Elizabeth Zhong Photo: Supplied

Police are continuing to investigate after finding a body while searching for missing 55-year-old business woman Elizabeth Zhong, or Zhong Ying, last week.

Police cars remained outside Zhong's house on Suzetta Place in Sunnyhills today.

A spokesperson for the Chinese embassy said staff had contacted police to confirm that she was a New Zealand citizen, living with her family in Auckland.

"The case is still under investigation and if needed, we stand ready to provide assistance for NZ police during the investigation process," they said.

Records showed three businesses owned by Zhong had been listed for sale, or placed into receivership since 2019.

Carrick, a winery and restaurant in Central Otago, has been in receivership since 2 November after it was put on the market in February last year so Zhong could "pursue other business interests".

It claimed to have important distribution ties with China and elsewhere in Asia, and in a now-removed post on the website described Zhong as the key to the company's success.

"When not tied up with her film interests, Elizabeth ventures south to where her heart really lies," it said.

Today, Carrick's Vineyard Manager Cliff Wickman said staff were 'devastated' to hear about Zhong's death and felt for her family.

He referred all further comment to the receiver, who was not available today.

Zhong was also the owner of Digipost and Digipost Entertainment Limited, a post-production and visual effects company based in Epsom, Auckland.

The building it operated out of was sold in a mortgagee sale this year, and neighbours told RNZ it had been vacant since April, with very few visitors.

It has a new owner but is yet to be leased, and the Digipost signage has been stashed in a bush outside.

A third company owned by Zhong, Zoomsun Shenyang Limited, has a note on the companies register stating the company is overdue to file an annual return.

"This company is now overdue in its obligation to file an annual return. If the annual return is not filed immediately the Registrar will initiate action to remove the company from the register," it said.

Police said the scene examination in Sunnyhills may not be completed until the end of the week.

"We are continuing to speak with a number of people known to Ms Zhong as we work to piece together the events leading up to her death."

They are asking any anyone who may have information to contact 105 or Crimestoppers.