88 CBT cases by lawyers involving RM88.3mil in losses since 2021, says CCID chief

KUALA LUMPUR: A total of 88 criminal breach of trust (CBT) cases committed by lawyers were recorded resulting in RM88.3mil in losses between 2021 and last year, says Comm Datuk Seri Ramli Mohamed Yoosuf.

The Commercial Crime Investigation Department (CCID) director said that as of Jan 24, eight cases with RM7.4mil in losses had been recorded this year.

"While the cases only involve 0.4% of the total 21,570 lawyers registered with the Bar Council, the average losses are about RM998,333 per case.

"This shows that CBT cases by lawyers must not be taken lightly," he told a press conference at CCID headquarters on Friday (Jan 26).

The latest case occurred in Negri Sembilan, where a 60-year-old man lost RM333,323, he said.

"The victim lodged a report on the CBT case on Jan 19.

"Initial investigations showed a lawyer and a real-estate agent had handled the sale of the victim's house in August last year.

"However, the victim did not receive the money from the sale.

"In January, the victim went to the law firm and was told the victim's funds were used for other matters by the firm's owner," he said.

Comm Ramli said the victim was then given a cheque for RM333,323 but the cheque bounced as the law firm had issued a stop payment order.

"We discovered that the ownership of the victim's house had changed to the new owner.

"We are investigating under Section 409 of the Penal Code," he said.

Comm Ramli urged the Bar Council to scrutinise and improve procedures and punishments on wrongdoings by lawyers.

"We also propose that the procedure to manage client accounts by law firms be revised by including the client in every transaction involving the account.

"We believe if it can be implemented, it will be an effective mechanism to prevent CBT cases by lawyers and money laundering," he said.

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