Monday, August 6, 2007

Fraudulent land transfers rarely occur

New Straits Times
by Jennifer Gomez

• Man dead for 10 years but still ‘signed’ land deal

KUALA LUMPUR: Fraudulent land transfers are rare, according to the deputy director-general of the Land and Mines Department (development and operations), Datuk Mazbar Abu Bakar.

When he was asked to comment on a recent case involving a 2004 land transfer that was supposedly signed for by a trustee who had died in 1997, he said:

"In my personal view, the system in place and the National Land Code offers sufficient protection for property owners."

Mazbar’s comments appear to contradict a statement by the Deputy Internal Security Minister Datuk Johari Baharum in parliament recently that land transfers using forged signatures had been on the increase since 2001.

He said 16 such cases were recorded in 2001, 19 in 2002, 22 in 2003, 32 in 2004, 35 in 2005 and 40 in 2006. There were 16 cases in the first five months of this year.

According to Bar Council conveyancing practice committee chairman Roger Tan, the feedback from his members was that there had been a rise in cases where land titles were forged.

"The computerisation of the land offices has also given rise to mistakes," Tan said.

In recent months, there have been calls for the National Land Code to be amended to protect the rights of property owners.

Man dead for 10 years but still ‘signed’ land deal

HULU KLANG: Abdul Wahid Mat Daso appears to have signed the land transfer documents for three lots of agricultural land in Hulu Klang for RM500,000 in August 2004.

However, the problem, according to a document from Indonesia, is that he had died in 1997.

As such, Mohd Salim Ibrahim, who claims to be the trustee of the land, is disputing the transfer.

Before returning to Indonesia in 1996, Wahid, the original trustee for the land, had taken Salim to the Gombak district office to check if he could appoint Salim as the new trustee.

This was because Wahid did not plan to return to Malaysia.

Salim told the New Straits Times that they also wanted to know if ownership of the land could be transferred because there was a potential buyer at the time.

He said they were informed by the officer-in-charge at the Gombak office that the land could not be transferred as Wahid was only a trustee.

The officer also turned down their request for a change in trusteeship.

Following that, the two men went to a commissioner for oaths and had the trusteeship "transferred" to Salim.

Salim said he was tending his fruit orchard on the land recently when a surveyor arrived and informed him that the 2.4ha plot had been sold.

The value of the land was estimated at RM1.8 million.

The purchaser is believed to have paid for the land by securing a bank loan.

When contacted by the New Straits Times, Gombak assistant district officer Nordin Abdullah said they had an order from the Alor Setar High Court dated April 2003 authorising Wahid, as the trustee, to transfer ownership to the purchaser.

Salim is puzzled by the turn of events as the request for a transfer of the land was turned down by the Gombak office when Wahid was alive.

Asked about this, Nordin said "they received a court order and had proceeded accordingly.

"If there are claims of fraud in the transfer, then the affected party must take his concerns to the court," he said.

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