As the Guyana Police Force continues its investigation into a reported land fraud matter, the evidence suggests that those involved in the conspiracy have been able to infiltrate the legal system to effectively execute every aspect of their scheme.
On Wednesday last, Rohit Lall, an electrical engineer residing in Eccles, reported to the police that he was swindled of two plots of land positioned at Eccles for which he is the transported owner. Lall, 60, reported that last year March, he went to Eccles Ramsburg Neighbourhood Democratic Council (NDC) to pay his rates and taxes when he learned that both plots of land were transferred to Mohamed Wazir of 429 Fourth Street, Herstelling by way of Transport issued in 2017.
Lall later found out that the transport was effected as a result of a Court order granted by Justice Jaimarine Singh in 2008.
This publication had reported that the ID card used by Mohamed is fake as GECOM has no record of a Wazir Mohamed who bears the image of the man presented in that ID card.
Guyana Standard now understands that the Registrar of the Supreme Court, Sueann Lovell was interviewed by the police. She disclosed that the file in which the court order was made cannot be found in the court. Lovell endeavors to locate Justice Jainarine Singh’s cause book. This is the book where a judge records orders in his or her handwriting.
Attorney General, Anil Nandlall is paying key interest in the matter as he has concerns over the magnitude of this scheme and the fact that the legal system was manipulated.
When Guyana Standard contacted Nandlall, he said that he uplifted, from the Deed’s Registry, the complete file in the matter and will hand that file over to the police.
The AG said that he reviewed the file and it appears as if Mohamed, through a power of attorney, has already sold the property for $35M to a company called, Soft Touch Inc. Further, Nandlall indicated that relevant documents have already been submitted to the Deeds Registry for the transport to be passed to the company.
Interestingly, Nandlall pointed out that the lawyer for both Mohamed and Soft Touch Inc. is Cecil Sullivan, the same person who was the public notary who executed the power of attorney to which Mohamed appointed a Chinese national.
The AG said that this is not the first time that a court order is being used as the basis for fraud in a property transaction. He said, “Investigations have revealed in the past, and this case is no different, that the entire file in which this court order is supposed to emanate goes missing.”
Nandlall continued, “This seems to be a device used on more than one occasion as the instrumentality to commit the fraud. So the legal system of the country seems to have been infiltrated by the fraudsters.”
Nandlall told Guyana Standard that fortunately, in this case, the fraud is being detected before the transport is passed to a third party. “Had it passed to the third party, then the victim of the fraud would have had to establish, in a court of law, that the third party knew, or was privy to the fraud. That sometimes is extremely difficult as was demonstrated in the case recently decided by the CCJ (Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) of Todd and Price.”
Consequent to the Merlene Todd v Desiree Price case, the CCJ recommended that the Guyana Government contemplates the reformation of the Deeds Registry Act.
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.