Body-in-boot murder inquiry: Dead woman’s businesses ran into trouble in months leading up to her death

Businesswoman Elizabeth (Ying) Zhong, who disappeared over the weekend with her body believed to have been found in the boot of her own car, appears to have run into commercial difficulties in the months leading up to her death.

Her Sunbow Group described itself online as running the Kennedy Point and Carrick vineyards, and the Digipost film production company – but all three entities have recently been sold or placed into receivership or liquidation.

On October 30 Andrew McKay and Andrew Bethell of BDO were appointed as receivers of Sunbow.

Digifilm described itself as a film studio leasing company, with Zhong as its sole director and wholly owned by Sunbow.

Parallel with the appointment of BDO, liquidators Jeffrey Meltzer and Michael Lamacraft were appointed to both Sunbow and Digifilm.

Meltzer and Lamacraft’s first report into the company said the firm had failed to pay a statutory demand and “it is understood that the company’s only asset being land and builds were subject to mortgagee sale prior to liquidation”.

The report said shareholders were owed $2.8m in advances, and trade and other creditors were owed $2.3m.

Meltzer told the Herald he had not had an opportunity to communicate with Zhong before her passing.

Calls to Digipost, a related company in contact details with Digifilm, went unanswered today.

Sunbow bought the well-regarded Central Otago vineyard Carrick for a reported $8m in 2016, but in early 2019 Zhong announced it was being put back on the market in order to “pursue other interests”.

It did not sell, however, and according to land records from last August creditors began placing caveats on the vineyard properties. On November 2 Andrew McKay and Andrew Bethell of BDO were appointed as receivers to Carrick Wines – who this week relisted the property for sale.

Waiheke’s Kennedy Point vineyard had operated as a boutique organic winemaker and accommodation provider, but in December 2019 the company’s property was placed into mortgagee sale and the business was sold to new owners in January.

Receivers McKay and Bethell of BDO, also appointed to the Kennedy Point Group in December 2019, said: “The sale of property was uncertain and as a result receivers were appointed to manage the process.”

Zhong’s residential home in Kumeu also began to have creditors place caveats across it from July last year.

Zhong, 55, was reported missing on Saturday morning.

It is understood Zhong’s body was found that evening in the boot of her own black SUV, which was parked on Roadley Ave, about 500 metres from her East Auckland home.

Police have confirmed the death is being treated as a homicide.

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