Stopping fraud: Amendments passed for Powers of Attorney, Deeds Registry Acts
With a keen focus on preventing fraud and the theft of immovable properties, the National Assembly on Monday passed amendments to the country’s Powers of Attorney Act and the Deeds Registry Act.
The two amendment bills were passed with a government majority and partial support from the Opposition.
It puts in place better safeguards and stiffer penalties for persons who fail to comply with the requirements set out in the legislation for transactions under the law.
Piloting both Amendment Bills on behalf of the government, Attorney General Anil Nandlall, SC, said that the deep and far-reaching amendments will prevent miscreants from perpetuating fraud.
Speaking specifically on the Powers of Attorney Amendment Bill which allows for written authorisation to act on another’s behalf in private affairs, business, or some other legal matter, Nandlall said this has unfortunately and often been abused.
“Powers of attorney are given too carelessly in this country.
“This Bill would do the donor better. Donors’ interests will be protected. It is intended to protect society, private property and all of us who intend to authorise someone to conduct a transaction, better achieve the purposes of the Act. It seeks to stamp out fraud,” Minister Nandlall said.
To guard against fraud, the amendments to the Bill propose that a power of attorney will only be vested with the donor of the power and the donee of the power appealing personally together before a public notary or magistrate.
The two parties will now have to provide to the notary or judge, two photograph identification documents that establish their identity and a photocopy of each of the documents.
In the case when the donor is out of the country and the donee is in Guyana, the two parties shall each appear personally before a public notary or magistrate in the country in which he/she is and execute the power of attorney.
Importantly, an attorney who fails to comply with the requirements commits an offence and is liable on a summary conviction of five years and a $5 million fine; and in the case of a corporate body, $10 million.
To support these changes, amendments were also made to the Deeds Registry Act, which has enshrined within it, a requirement that anyone who fails to register, file or record a power of attorney without the attached copies of the photographic identification document and witness statement, in the case of a power of attorney executed outside of Guyana, commits an offence.
This Bill’s passage is consequential to the Powers of Attorney Bill which was passed earlier in the House on Monday with Nandlall again highlighting how the changes will make it difficult for persons who are bent on committing fraud.
“Clause 22 provides a person who registers, files or records a document purporting to be a power of attorney, in contravention of Section One, commits an offence and is liable on summary conviction to a fine of $5 million and imprisonment for five years. As I said, this is simply to facilitate and to accommodate the changes that we have made to the law in relation to powers of attorney,” Minister Nandlall said.
Government Member of Parliament, Sanjeev Datadin, in support of the amendment explained that the updated documents now required to legally obtain a power of attorney, are what is required to be filed at the Deeds Registry as records.
He noted that it would be “useless” if the government didn’t amend the Act to accommodate the amended Powers of Attorney Bill.
Documents that must be presented to the Deeds Registry are photographs of the donor of the power and recipient, statements of the witnesses, and the seal of the notary public or Magistrate.