Selangor Journal

Two recent reports lodged against legal firms over RM8 mln CBT

KUALA LUMPUR, May 17 — The police have received two recent reports alleging criminal breach of trust (CBT) by law firms, which resulted in their clients losing up to RM8 million.

Commercial Crimes Investigation Department (CCID) director Datuk Seri Ramli Mohamed Yoosuf said a 60-year-old company director lodged the first report in Sungai Buloh on Wednesday (May 15), claiming to have been cheated of RM3.2 million by a legal firm.

The director alleged that in July 2023, the company paid a legal firm RM3,723,663.57 as legal costs after hiring it to handle a civil suit against a banking institution for raising the interest rate for a loan it took.

Bukit Aman Commercial Crimes Investigation Department director Datuk Seri Ramli Mohamed Yoosuf speaks during a press conference on mule accounts for investment scams at Menara KPJ in Kuala Lumpur, on May 17, 2024. — Picture by BERNAMA

“In February, the complainant directed the lawyer to cancel the suit because the banking institution had agreed to reduce the loan interest rate for his company,” he told a press conference at Menara KPJ today.

Following discussions, the lawyer agreed to deduct RM521,498.60 as legal fees and return the balance of RM3,202,164.97 to the complainant.

“However, until now, the complainant has yet to receive the money promised by the legal firm. The case is being investigated under Section 409 of the Penal Code,” Ramli said.

In the second case lodged with the Petaling Jaya district police in Selangor, a 53-year-old company director was allegedly cheated of RM4.8 million by a legal firm over the purchase of a plot of land.

In June 2018, the complainant’s company signed an agreement with another company to buy 55 acres of land in Plentong, Johor, for RM40 million.

“The complainant deposited RM4.8 million into the account of the legal firm appointed by the vendor company.

“In August 2018, the complainant’s lawyer searched the land office and found that another company had entered a new private caveat,” he said.

In September 2018, the complainant also received a letter from the vendor company’s lawyer asking the complainant to cancel his company’s private caveat on the land and also began court proceedings against the complainant.

Subsequently in January this year, the Kuala Lumpur High Court decided in favour of the vendor company after finding that the RM4.8 million deposit paid by the complainant to the legal firm appointed by the vendor was not in the account of the legal firm.

“The case is being investigated under Section 409 of the Penal Code,” Ramli said.

He added that 31 CBT cases with losses exceeding RM35 million were reported against legal firms throughout the country in 2023, while 22 cases involving losses of over RM19 million have been reported as of May 15.

“Therefore, anyone dealing with lawyers, especially for transactions involving big amounts of money, are advised to always check the presence of the money to prevent such cases from happening,” Ramli said.

He suggested that clients open joint accounts with their lawyers to prevent CBT cases and urged the Bar Council to take firmer action against errant lawyers.

— Bernama

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