Penang law firm cheated us of RM2 mil, claims group of 6

M Thayalan (third from right) with the victims at the press conference in George Town today.

GEORGE TOWN: Six people claimed they were cheated up to RM2 million by a law firm here after money was given to them in trust as payment for property purchases.

These six people met scores of others in a similar position when they went knocking on the doors of the law firm here.

The firm has so far refused to give any response whether they will give the money back and is still operating.

At least one complainant has requested the court to declare the firm bankrupt and freeze their assets and bank accounts.

Most of the victims had bought or sold properties, including apartments, shophouses and a retail outlet in a shopping mall. They were all referred to the law firm by real estate agents who claimed the law firm came highly recommended.

The six told a press conference today that their loss was RM2 million but the amount could be higher if claims by others were included.

One of the six, who lost close to RM900,000 in cash, was the uncle of the law firm’s partner.

The 67-year-old man, who only wanted to be known as “KS”, said he had trusted his lawyer nephew to buy two apartments many years ago and everything had gone well then.

The retired hotelier said late last year he decided to spend his retirement savings on a bigger apartment in Tanjung Tokong.

He asked his nephew to handle the deal, handing over RM892,000 in total for the transaction, of which RM875,000 was for the new home and the rest for legal and miscellaneous fees.

“My wife and I parted with the retirement savings, thinking that we could afford some luxury towards the tail-end of our lives.

“But for my own nephew to do this to me and many others is despicable. I want police to start criminal action against his firm,” KS said.

He said despite lodging a police report in January, the police had yet to “do anything”.

The other five said they too had lodged police reports but police had yet to take action.

Another victim, who wanted to be known as Amir, said he sold his retail outlet in a shopping complex but the buyer failed to pay up, no thanks to the same law firm.

The victim said the buyer had paid RM660,000 through the lawyers last year.

He said the law firm had issued three cheques to him but all later bounced.

“I sold my retail unit to help me fund my parents’ medical and hospitalisation bills. And now, this,” he said.

Another victim, Ch’ng, said she had sold her apartment in March last year for RM550,000 but her buyer had enlisted the same legal firm.

M Thayalan, a lawyer representing one of the complainants, said such law firms only brought disrepute to the legal profession and should be disbarred from practising.

“Lawyers are in a position of trust, a trust placed by their clients to fulfil their requirements. But these crooks spoil our name.

“And we also wonder why there is no criminal investigation despite scores of police reports lodged against the firm.

“While we have pursued civil suits to demand the money to be returned to our clients, we hope police can also expedite their investigations immediately,” he said.

FMT has contacted the Bar Council for comment and is awaiting their reply.