REVEALED: VICTIM OF LAND
SCAM TELLS HER STORY
More than 80 people were allegedly duped into buying land in Makoi, which was set aside for resettlement of informal settlers from Vatuwaqa. The alleged scam is worth over $150,000, where people, including civil servants, have allegedly paid as much as $5000 for land. The land belonged to K Bhindi Brothers Limited and was not for sale.
The Fiji Independent Commission Against Corruption (FICAC), with assistance from the Ministry of Housing and Community Development have arrested two people.
The land in Makoi is being developed for $12 million by K Bhindi Brothers to relocate squatters at the Nanuku Settlement. The Vatuwaqa land also belonged to the company and they want to develop this into a commercial lot.
The investigations revealed the two people, one who was a former employee of the company, tricked people into paying money thinking they were purchasing land in Makoi from the Minister of Housing Premila Kumar, when no such deal existed. The two men allegedly issued fake receipts and had a stamp on the receipts which read ‘The Ministry of Local Government & Housing Project For Makoi.’
The matter was brought to the Ministry of Housing by Gaitri Prakash, a Justice of Peace, who was approached by three women who were suspicious of a deal they were offered.
Rosie Goundar, 41, sells flowers and was approached by a person known to her at the USP Market. He asked if she would be interested in land in Makoi, Nasinu. As she had been interested she tried to enquire more.
“I was taken to another man by this fellow I knew. I was told that the cost of the land was $7000 and I could secure the land for a deposit of $4000,” she said.
“I was instantly told that Lot 21 was mine. I told them that I did not have that much money and was told I needed to pay $200 to ensure my interest was protected.”
Ms Goundar said she was told to come to the real estate office in Nausori to finalise the deal. She made haste to inspect the land and did not want to miss the opportunity to purchase the land at the low cost of $7000.
Ms Goundar, her sister Niranjala and a school teacher then went to the so called real estate office opposite the Total Service Station near Ratu Cakobau Park.
Ms Goundar and the two women became suspicious as the office was in a rundown shop with no signs. They were assured by the two men that they had the backing of the minister and provided newspaper cuttings to show that Makoi land was being developed.
Ms Goundar paid $1000 as a deposit. The matter was taken to Ms Prakash as Niranjala became suspicious of the deal.
FICAC in a statement said the Minister and Ministry for Housing were not partaking in transactions such as these and anyone claiming this should be reported immediately.
FICAC also invited the public to come forward with evidence or information relating to this scam, especially if they were victims.
Police are now also involved and also answerable would be the people who made the stamp for the two alleged scammers.