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Fraud Squad to probe 4 cases of ‘land fraud’

Published: 
Saturday, July 21, 2018
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Agriculture Minister Clarence Rambharat, centre, with recipients during the Statutory Lease Distribution ceremony at Government Plaza, Port-of-Spain yesterday. Photo by:SHIRLEY BAHADUR

Four cases of possible land fraud have been forwarded to the acting Commissioner of Police Stephen Williams for action, according to Agriculture Minister Clarence Rambharat.

Speaking with the T&T Guardian yesterday, Rambharat said that the cases were sent directly to Williams for him to “transmit” to the Fraud Squad.

Rambharat said that there are “hundreds more” cases before him.

In June 5, Rambharat, during his contribution to the Registration of Titles to Land Bill in the Senate, admitted that land fraud is rampant in T&T. He indicated then that he will be reporting land fraud to the police for investigations.

In highlighting another level of “fraud,” Rambharat revealed that several former senior government technocrats and their relatives have been identified as living “illegally” in Government quarters.

The minister was delivering remarks at yesterday’s 1st Statutory Lease Distribution Ceremony which was held at the Auditorium Government Plaza, Richmond Street, Port-of-Spain.

Rambharat said that last week he received a report on the occupation of government quarters and it revealed that several retirees are still residing at the respective quarters. In one case, the minister said that currently, along the Long Circular Road, a relative of a former watchman at the ministry is said to be occupying one of the properties.

“Five months after my appointment I asked for a report to be done on the government quarters in the ministry. I asked for an exercise to be done to indicate the state of each quarter and occupancy…that was in February 2016 and I asked for the report in one month’s time…two-and-a-half years later I got the report, Rambharat said.

“Senior technocrats in the ministry are allowed to occupy the quarters while doing work for the ministry and upon retirement, the report showed that they continue to live and it’s you, the taxpayers, are paying the light and water bills…they are no different than squatters,” he added.

Rambharat declared: “It is time to take a stand.”

He added that currently, he is looking at the cases on a “one-on-one basis” and will go to the Cabinet soon with a recommendation.

“When the time comes for them to leave they should, and they should be encouraged to leave, and when that encouragement expires they should be made to leave,” Rambharat said.

Ministry of Housing and Urban Development, acting Deputy Permanent Secretary, Haimdath Ramoutar delivered the feature address on behalf of Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley. Rowley’s absence was described as “unavoidable” and no further explanation was given.

Ramoutar urged recipients to ensure that they make every effort to pay the 25 per cent premium offer so that they can receive their Deed of Lease for 199 years.

The families were given their respective 30-year statutory lease in several areas in North East Trinidad.

They were offered the sale of the land at 25 per cent of the market value, which amounts to a monthly instalment of $167.

Once the full payment is made on or before, they would be then given the Deed of Lease.

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