Attorney General (AG), Anil Nandlall is convinced that recent attempts made to swindle an unsuspecting man of his Eccles, East Bank Demerara property is in fact a product of a ‘wide and integrated’ conspiracy. Nandllall has since called in the Guyana Police Force (GPF) to investigate the matter.
The AG is hopeful that the probe will unravel the scheme and reveal the prevalent exploitation of loopholes by duplicitous individuals purporting to be Powers of Attorney to sell properties belonging to others. Nandlall said this last night during a live Facebook programme, “Government in Action.”
Nandlall explained that an Eccles landowner, who has transport for his property, received a call from the Eccles/Ramsburg Neighbourhood Democratic Council (NDC) that someone was at the Council seeking to be registered as the property’s new owner. The AG said that the man rushed down to the NDC to clarify that he is the legitimate owner. He was then confronted by the individual bearing a transport to the said property. That individual exhibited a document showing that he is the Power of Attorney to the claimed “new owner”.
“I have asked the Crime Chief to do a full-blown investigation into this matter, and to examine it at every link of the chain,” Nandlall said.
The AG revealed that there were similar instances where persons were swindled of their properties; he surmised that this scheme is extensive.
Nandlall said, “There is no doubt in my mind, having examined several of these transactions, that there is a wide and very integrated conspiracy at work. No one person can pull off this that we’re speaking about. For example, I am told by the gentleman whose case I just recited, that when his lawyer made inquiries at the Deeds Registry, the book in which his transport is supposed to be found and recorded as a matter of permanent record—that particular volume—was missing. And the reports that I get, most of them implicate the same number of Notaries Public. So, you identify consistencies based upon the cases that come to your attention.”
Nandlall’s claim of a land fraud conspiracy comes against the backdrop of the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) recommending that the Guyana Government contemplates the reformation of the Deeds Registry Act. That advice came in the Merlene Todd v Desiree Price and Ann Jennifer Jeboo ruling last month.
In that matter, Jeboo, who claimed to act on behalf of Alan Price (now deceased), used a Power of Attorney to sell lands to Todd, who obtained a transport. It was subsequently discovered that the Power of Attorney was fake and Jeboo was convicted of fraud. Alan Price sued both Jeboo and Todd in the High Court seeking to set aside the sale and have the transport declared void. Price died before trial and the claim was continued by his widow, Desiree Price, who later alleged that Todd was party to the fraud. The High Court disagreed and refused to declare the transport to Todd void.
Desiree Price appealed this decision in the Court of Appeal. Todd challenged the appeal by arguing that allegations of fraud had not formed part of the pleadings. On 16 March 2020, the Court of Appeal allowed the appeal and found inter alia, that Todd’s “gross negligence” made her a party to the fraud. The court declared that the transport was null and void. Todd subsequently appealed the decision at the CCJ. The apex court found, inter alia, that the allegations of fraud had not been pleaded and Todd was not allowed to respond or defend herself against these allegations. The CCJ found that the Court of Appeal was wrong to declare Todd a party to the fraud. Finding that Price had been deprived of his land through no real fault of his own, the CCJ expressed that this showcased the need for legislative reform.