Sep 26, 2021 News
By Renay Sambach
Kaieteur News – Many people have lost their land through fraud. This has prompted the government to arrest property fraud by working to strengthen laws and related agencies.
Today I share with you some court cases in which persons were charged in relation to property fraud.
In most cases, when property fraud is committed, it is done by forging a Power of Attorney. A Power of Attorney is a written authorisation to represent or act on another’s behalf. The holder of a Power of Attorney is given the broad legal or limited authority to make decisions about the principal’s property, finances, or medical care.
This past week, a pensioner was placed before the court for fraud in which she allegedly attempted to sell a piece of land that is not hers. Sixty-six-year-old Loren Graham was released on bail when she appeared before a City Magistrate.
Graham appeared in the Georgetown Magistrates’ Courts before Senior Magistrate, Leron Daly. She denied the charge which alleges that between September 1, 2021 and September 17, 2021, at Georgetown, she conspired with others and falsely told Leon Joseph, a real estate agent,
that she was in a position to sell a parcel of land at Lot 924 Eccles, East Bank Demerara, while knowing same to be false.
The court heard that the pensioner allegedly gave a statement admitting to the crime. She was then placed on $300,000 bail and the matter was adjourned to October 18, 2021.
In April 2021, Coretta Baird of Lot 1749 Façade, Parika, East Bank Essequibo, appeared before Chief Magistrate, Ann McLennan, in the Georgetown Magistrates’ Courts for fraud related charges.
The first charge alleges that on September 22, 2020 at the Guyana Revenue Authority, Camp Road, Georgetown, with intent to defraud, she uttered to Marlon Baburam, one Limited Power of Attorney (#1128/2019) to be used as genuine, knowing same to be forged.
The second charge stated that between August 1, 2020 and September 22, 2020, at Georgetown, with intent to defraud, she forged a Limited Power of Attorney dated February 5, 2020, purporting to show that it was issued by Cledwin Barnwell, knowing same to be forged.
It is alleged that Baird forged the Power of Attorney in order to commit property fraud. She was released on $60,000 bail pending the outcome of the case.
On the same day, Baird appeared in court, Rajpaul Basdeo also appeared before the Chief Magistrate where he was charged with forging a document and was granted $60,000 bail too.
Basdeo of Section B, Non Pariel, East Coast Demerara, pleaded not guilty to one count of forgery. He denied the charge which stated that on March 27, 2019, at Charlotte Street, Georgetown, with intent to defraud, he forged a Power of Attorney document, purporting to show that it was signed by Dhanmati Ramjass, knowing the same to be forged.
The court heard that Ramjass and Basdeo are known to each other. During the year 2018, Ramjass travelled to Canada to have an operation done on her eyes. The operation was unsuccessful and resulted in her losing her sight. Given her situation, she started using her thumb print instead of a signature to conduct her business.
The woman later learnt that Basdeo made a claim that she had signed a Power of Attorney document giving him control of her two properties. The matter was reported to the police and following an investigation, Basdeo was charged.
In June 2018, a 22-year-old real estate agent had appeared in the Georgetown Magistrates’ Courts for the second time, where he was charged with three counts of fraud.
Basdeo Persaud of Mon Repos, East Coast Demerara (ECD), denied the charges that were read to him by Magistrate, Fabayo Azore.
It is alleged that he fraudulently obtained a total of $320,000 from Rohini Persaud between January 6 and January 19, 2018, pretending that he was in a position to obtain for her a plot of land.
It was also alleged that he obtained $140,000 from Mohani Ramdeen for the same purpose between February 27 and February 28, 2018.
The women reported the matter to the police after they saw a news report in which he was described as an alleged fraudster.
Persaud was first charged for committing the same offence on April 10, 2018 against Anarada Persaud, from whom he reportedly obtained $450,000, allegedly for the same purpose. The woman reported to police that she paid $450,000 to Persaud in two payments. She also reported that when she had started construction, she found out that the land was not up for sale.
On June 11, 2018, the defendant was slapped with a fraud charge after he allegedly took $100,000 from Anarada Persaud by falsely pretending that he was in a position to obtain a plot of land.
According to reports, in May 2009, 51-year-old John Heywood of East Ruimveldt Housing Scheme, Georgetown, was placed on $75,000 bail by then Acting Chief Magistrate, Melissa Robertson, at the Georgetown Magistrates’ Courts when he appeared to answer a forgery charge.
It was alleged that the accused between May 3, 2005 and June 6, 2005 conspired with person or persons unknown to forge one Power of Attorney and Affidavit of Owner purporting to show that it was signed by Walter Stewart.
The court heard that the virtual complainant is the defendant’s father.
Earlier this year, Attorney General (AG) and Minister of Legal Affairs, Anil Nandlall, S.C., had announced several plans to strengthen the laws and systems to combat property fraud.
During a live broadcast of the programme, Government in Action, 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 because of 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 had stated.
The AG had noted too 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. It was further 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 AG 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 it more accessible to the public.
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