New measures are to be introduced in Singapore next month to protect property buyers from rogue overseas property lawyers. Two high profile cases in 2006 and 2007 resulted in fraud of around S$17 million (ÃÂ£8.65 million) and the new laws are designed to protect property buyers from unscrupulous overseas solicitors.
New law aims to protect buyers when choosing overseas property lawyers
The Conveyancing (Miscellaneous Amendments) Bill was passed in Parliament in April and will come into force on August 1st, 2011. The aim of the new legislation is to tighten the safeguards in terms of lawyers holding conveyancing monies.
The law change means that overseas property layers in Singapore will no longer be allowed to hold and receive such money in their standard client accounts. The money must instead be held in dedicated accounted offered by banks appointed by the Ministry of Law.
News Asia reports that five banks have been appointed
- Bank of China, DBS Bank, Overseas Chinese Banking Corporation (OCBC), Bank of
East Asia and United Overseas Bank (UOB).
Consumer advertising will help buyers understand role of overseas property lawyers
Any overseas property lawyers found in breach of the rules can be fined up to S$50,000 (ÃÂ£25,300) or face a prison sentence of up to three years.
Posters are to be displayed at residentsÃ¢â¬â¢ committees in order to help the public understand the new legislation. A telephone hotline and website has also been set up to advise on the changes.
The change to the law has come after two high profile fraud cases in recent years. Channel News Asia reports that overseas property lawyer David Rasif made off with around S$11 million of his clients\' money in 2006, mostly from one wealthy overseas buyer.
In addition, in November 2007, property lawyer Zulkifli
Mohd Amin was involved in a fraud worth around S$6 million - some of it
allegedly from a conveyancing deal.