Mar 21, 2021 News
AG announces steps to make Official Gazette more accessible to public
Kaieteur News – Attorney General (AG) and Minister of Legal Affairs, Anil Nandlall, S.C., has announced several plans to strengthen the laws and systems to combat property fraud.
During a live-aired broadcast of the programme, Government in Action, this past week, the AG stressed on the importance of safeguarding citizens from property fraud.
He noted that there are dozens of instances in which Guyanese lost their properties by way of fraud, “through no fault of theirs,” but owing to a lack of understanding of the laws and systems that govern the sale and transfer of properties.
“We have had a problem in Guyana whereby dozens of persons have lost properties through no fault of theirs, but simply by persons committing dishonest acts, as well as, an institutional failure on the part of the agencies, whose responsibility it is to protect their own process and by extension the propriety interests of Guyanese,” he said.
AG Nandlall noted that while there may be loopholes in the law and systems that allow for the unlawful activities, the lack of adequate due diligence by citizens and their attorneys also plays a role.
He said that the Official Gazette, for instance, is essential to the sale and transfer of properties. “All laws and important notices are required to be published in the Official Gazette,” the AG said.
Under his previous tenure as AG, Nandlall had taken steps to have the Official Gazette published online. In addition, published copies of the Official Gazette can be purchased, but only at the Office of the President.
The Attorney General said that one of the main reasons that fraud is happening is due to the inaccessibility of the Official Gazette. As such, he said that steps would be taken to make the gazette more accessible to the public.
“The Office of the President cannot be only place of which the Official Gazette can be purchased. The Office of the President is not accessible to all members of the public and the aura and environment of the Office of the President is one that can be intimidating… to many persons,” Nandlall said, adding that there is no reason why the Gazette cannot be accessible at Regional Democratic Councils (RDCs) and Neighbourhoods Democratic Councils (NDCs), post offices or even popular stores and shops across the country.
Additionally, he said, following discussions with the Guyana National Printers Limited on improving the accessibility of the Official Gazette, he is in the process of crafting a Cabinet paper to support the initiative.
He suggested that this could be a method of protecting citizens and their properties against fraudulent activities.
“We can also put it on social media, on popular websites for which the public has easy access,” Nandlall said, of plans to have the Official Gazette popularized and publicized.
In the meantime, AG Nandlall encourages the public to familiarize themselves with the Official Gazette and to continuously check the updated publications to ensure that their properties are not listed for sale. The Attorney General also said that, there needs be more public education on the matter as “everyone has a duty to protect their property.”
During the interview, the AG said it is of fundamental importance that the Government protect its citizens and their properties from fraudulent activities. The Attorney General said fraudsters are forging documents and selling people’s properties unknown to them: “This type of fraudulent conduct has repeatedly occurred, especially in recent times, with alarming prevalence, having regard to, I guess, the boldness, which now endows criminals, as well as the fact that you have, I suppose technological advances and fraud manifests itself in many ways.”
Referencing recent incidents where persons have been defrauded, AG Nandlall said he has asked the Crime Chief to launch a “full blown” investigation into the matter.
“If there is a Notary Public involved, who may have executed a Power of Attorney, investigate that component of the transaction. Obviously, the matter was filed at the Deeds Registry, investigate that component, and investigate the officers. If it was advertised in the Official Gazette, then let the investigation go there as well and let us see where the fraud actually took place,” he said.
It is against this backdrop that the Government plans to examine both the administrative apparatus and the statutory framework to improve the system, both in terms of the law and the administrative process. This was buttressed by a call from the Caribbean Court of Justice to examine the legal framework.
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