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Land loss hearing in private after criminal charges claim made

Uphill battle: Robert Moulder fought a three-year legal battle to keep his home (File photograph)

A man told a commission set up to look at land losses that he had a paper trail of evidence to prove that his property was taken from him illegally – and that lawyers, real estate agents and banks played a role in the land grab.

But Robert Moulder gave his testimony behind closed doors at the hearing after commissioners were told his evidence could lead to criminal charges.

Mr Moulder wrote to the commission last June that he was “confident that what happened is an example of the type of systemic land grab that the commission has a responsibility for inquiring into”.

Mr Moulder quoted a Royal Gazette article where the late Walton Brown, a former Progressive Labour Party minister and MP, talked about “illicit practices by a cabal of lawyers, real estate agents and banks”.

Mr Moulder letter, which he read out before the commission went into private session, said: “The above words resonate with me because lawyers, real estate agents and banks all played a role in my being dispossessed.

“My land was purportedly – but not really – adversely possessed, and then purportedly – but not really – sold by being included in the deed of conveyance and a deed of mortgage under circumstances where I’m confident that I can show all parties involved knew that my land had not truly been adversely possessed or able to be legally sold.

“I am confident that what happened is an example of the type of systemic land grab that the commission has a responsibility for inquiring into and believe that criminal wrongs were committed by various individuals that ought to be reported to the Department of Public Prosecutions.

“My case is an example of how this type of land theft can be accomplished where people who did not have a valid claim to ownership were provided with deeds.

“I have in my possession an abundance of evidence to show how this was accomplished by the creation of deeds and sworn untrue affidavits.

“I believe that my evidence will also be useful to the commission in general as it illustrates how land theft could have occurred in other cases historically where parties may not have a complete paper trail as I do.”

Mr Moulder said the dispute started after “a significant area” of his Sandys property was sold in 1999 “without his knowledge” by a neighbour who claimed to own it because of adverse possession and rights of way.

He claimed: “This was “a land theft by deed.”

Mr Moulder said the new owners branded him a “trespasser” and he was eventually forced to take his case to court.

He added: “The outcome of that case over three years was that my ownership was confirmed.”

Mr Moulder said the neighbour had never had the right to sell the land in the first place.

He also claimed that the couple who bought the property from his neighbour knew that he was not the rightful owner.

Mr Moulder said he unearthed evidence of the “deliberate land grab” in 2016.

He added: “How many parcels of land have been lost through things like false deeds and false affidavits, I cannot help but wonder.

“Although I was able to recover my land, there has never been a trial to deal with the dishonesty aspect of the claim.

“As such, I feel that the Commission of Inquiry is the appropriate forum for the true story of the circumstances of my dispossession to be finally heard.”

Mr Moulder said that the legal battle had “ruined” his life – and that he was still in danger of losing his property after he racked up more legal fees in a bid to claim compensation.

He added: “In attempts to seek compensation, I have risked losing my home to pay court costs to … the very parties who participated in the false claim.”

A second letter from Mr Moulder was also submitted in evidence yesterday.

But before Mr Moulder could read it to the commission, Dirk Harrison, its counsel, recommended that the evidence should be heard in camera in the interests of natural justice and confidentiality.

Wayne Perinchief, the interim commission chairman, agreed and ordered that the broadcast of the hearing should be stopped.

Mr Perinchief earlier discussed the absence of Norma Wade-Miller, the chairwoman of the commission.

He said: “As we resume this Commission of Inquiry I wish to give some information.

“There are questions that have been sent to this commission regarding the position of the chair.

“I wish to say at this time that Justice Wade-Miller has been appointed as chairperson of this Commission of Inquiry.

“She still remains in that position and is dealing with personal matters and in the interim she has asked me to sit to preside over the commission.”

Ms Wade-Miller last sat on the commission on January 15.

Mr Perinchief announced a few days later that Ms Wade-Miller would “be away for a while”, and that she had asked him to sit as interim chairman.

The Royal Gazette raised questions about the whereabouts of Ms Wade-Miller on Monday.

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