25 November 2007

Office boy spots RM9.7m land grab


KUALA LUMPUR: An alert office boy has stumbled on the fraudulent transfer of a piece of land worth RM9.7 million in the "Golden Triangle".

He works for the legal firm engaged by Taiwanese investor Chen Wei Pin to handle the sale of his land.

MCA Public Services and Complaints Bureau head Datuk Michael Chong told a news conference that Chen and his two brothers had bought the 1,580 square metre plot of land behind Plaza See Hoy Chan in Changkat Raja Chulan in 1990 and had the original land title to prove their ownership.

In April, Chen decided to sell the land to Lim Chai Beng, who paid the 10 per cent deposit and tried to lodge a caveat on the land to protect his interest while the sale was completed.

The office boy did a land search at the Kuala Lumpur Land Office in June and discovered that the Malaysian director of a private company registered here had entered a private caveat on the land.
Chen's lawyer, Justin Chin, helped him to lodge a report at the Dang Wangi police station on July 6, in which he said he was told the director had sworn a statutory declaration claiming that Chen had sold the land to his company.

Chen said neither he nor his brothers had ever heard of the company or the director and lodged another police report on Thursday. He said in this report that he instructed his lawyers to issue warning notices dated July 4 and July 11 to the director to withdraw the caveat, but he had not done so.

He then told the lawyers to file an application to remove the caveat from the Land Registry on July 9 and to lodge their own caveat on the land.

But their application was rejected by the Land Registrar on July 10. To this day, the application to remove the director's caveat had not been dealt with by the Registrar, the report said.

On Wednesday, another land search showed that another Malaysian was now the registered owner of the property through a memorandum of transfer registered on Oct 24.

Chen said his lawyers told him they were advised by the Registrar to lodge a police report to enable them to lodge a Registrar's caveat on the land to stop all further transactions on the land.

Chong and bureau legal adviser Datuk Theng Fook said, over the past five years, they had received 17 such complaints in several states involving idle and prime land worth some RM30 million.

"We have met Commercial Crime Investigation Department director Datuk Ramli Yusuff, the Selangor menteri besar and other authorities to inform them of these land fraud cases.

"The reputation and investment climate of the country are at stake when such cases happen. We want the problem to be tackled at the cabinet level," added Theng.

Theng said the transfer was highly suspicious as the Federal Territory land office had said the files were missing, but computer records showed the transfer was made and a new land title was issued.

Chong said they strongly suspected that Chen's case was an "inside job".

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