PM directs investigation into land fraud Print E-mail
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Friday, 01 September 2017 00:00

The Office of the Prime Minister has announced that he has asked the Police Department to launch a criminal investigation into what appears to be fraud at the Lands Department. A civilian has shown up with proof that her name and signature were forged in a document which says that she sold land to Andre Vega, son of the Former Deputy Prime Minister Gaspar Vega.

The land in question is outlined in a Ministers Fiat Grant #175 of 2009. It says that Belmopan resident Amy Forte allegedly bought a lot on Caye Caulker, a piece of land that is 3,826.903 square metres in size. This is private land owned by a real estate company, and so the Government had no business selling title to it. Yet, the Ministry of Natural Resources supposedly sold it and created a paper trail for this purchase on May 18, 2009.

Documents in the hands of the press say that a deed of conveyance, with a signature purported to have been Amy Forte’s, was drafted on February 17, 2010. In this document, it says that Forte allegedly sold the land to Andre Vega, and she was allegedly paid $30,000. The documents were disclosed in the evening news, and Amy Forte learned of the implication against her.

A press release from her attorney, Deshawn Arzu Torres, says, “Ms. Forte applied to purchase national land in Caye Caulker in or around 2007, but never received any title to property from the Government of Belize or any response whatsoever to her application. She was only made aware of the issuance of title in her name during the Channel 7 Newscast on August 22, 2017. Ms. Forte did not pay any purchase price sums to the Government of Belize for the property allegedly acquired by her, nor did she transfer any to Andre Vega. Ms. Forte has never met Andre Vega and did not receive the sum of $30,000 or any sum of money from either Andre Vega, any member of the Vega Family, any other person on their behalf, or any at all.”

That Fraud and forgery triggered compensation protocol at the Ministry of Natural Resources, and Former Minister Gaspar Vega traded his son, Andre, 7 Acres of land on Mosquito Caye for that fraudulently issued conveyance.

Amy Forte has provided the Prime Minister with a handwriting expert’s certificate asserting that her signature was forged on the Conveyance. Provided with actionable evidence, Prime Minister Barrow has acted swiftly, and he has cancelled the Minister’s Fiat, and the land on Mosquito Caye. Andre Vega’s attorney, Estevan Perera, has written to Natural Resources CEO Sharon Ramclam, conceding that there were “issues with the purchase”, and so he’s relinquishing ownership, “so as to prevent any further issues”.

That’s not enough for Prime Minister Barrow, and his office has asked that the Police Department investigate this transaction “with a view to bringing criminal charges against any person or persons responsible for forgery.”

A press release from the Government of Belize says, “The Prime Minister has concluded that the charge of fraud raised by Ms. Forte is credible and must be taken extremely seriously and acted upon…The OPM expects that the Police investigation will be completed as quickly as possible to satisfy the need for justice in this case.”

Last Updated on Friday, 01 September 2017 13:57