Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi is going after land fraudsters.
“Today is the day that the bacchanal and fraud in (land dealings) in Trinidad and Tobago comes to the floor to be stopped,” Al-Rawi declared, as he piloted the Miscellaneous Provision Bill in the Senate yesterday.
The bill, among other things “would close the abuse of trusts, close the system where registration is not a requirement of law”.
He said in 2014 there were $30.1 million in fraudulent transactions in deeds.
In 2019, it was $114.8 million.
The bill will create a Registry of Deeds of Trusts which would be able to be searched by the Financial Intelligence Unit, Police Service, Board of Inland Revenue or by way of an order of court.
It pertains to trusts that treat with land.
Said the Attorney General: “One of the major mechanisms for conducting fraud is the use of a declared trust where attorney-at-law execute a trust, pay a stamp duty of $25, register a deed in ‘John Brown’s’ name, whereas the trust says it is really ‘Jane Doe’.
‘Clean perfecting of fraud’
“Twenty years later, they unwind the trust and simply transfer the stamp duty from one instrument to the next, a clean perfecting of fraud if it is intended, without the lawyers’ knowledge necessarily—a fraud upon Trinidad and Tobago.
“For example, a corrupt politician receiving a deed. In 25 years’ time, his son or daughter receives it, but as it is passed right now, it is shown in some innocuous name.
“That is compounded by the fact is that what lawyers have engaged in, (is) they execute a conveyance, they pay the stamp duty because there is a heavy clock for that, they sit down on the fact that there is no requirement for registration and then they register the instrument 20 years later, pulling it out of a drawer, and there is no penalty whatsoever.
“And this fraud is known to every single conveyancing lawyer and it is practised in wide expanse, not by way of breach of the law...by way of avoidance,” the Attorney General stated.