KUALA LUMPUR, May 17 — Police have received two recent reports alleging criminal breach of trust (CBT) by law firms which resulted in their clients losing a total of RM8 million.

Commercial Crimes Investigation Department (CCID) director Datuk Seri Ramli Mohamed Yoosuf said a 60-year-old company director lodged the first report in Sungai Buloh, Selangor on May 15, claiming to have been cheated of RM3.2 million by a legal firm.

The director alleged that in July 2023 the company paid a legal firm RM3,723,663.57 as legal cost after hiring it to handle a civil suit against a banking institution for raising the interest rate for a loan it took.

“Last February, the complainant directed the lawyer to cancel the suit because the banking institution had agreed to reduce the loan interest rate for his company,” he told a press conference at Menara KPJ here today.

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Following discussions, the lawyer agreed to deduct RM521,498.60 as legal fees and return the balance of RM3,202,164.97 to the complainant, he said.

“However, until now the complainant has yet to receive the money promised by the legal firm. The case is being investigated under Section 409 of the Penal Code,” he added.

In the second case lodged with the Petaling Jaya district police in Selangor, a 53-year-old company director was allegedly cheated of RM4.8 million by a legal firm over the purchase of a plot of land.

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In June 2018, the complainant’s company signed an agreement with another company to buy a 55-acre land for RM40 million in Plentong, Johor, he said.

“The complainant deposited RM4.8 million into the account of the legal firm appointed by the vendor company,” Ramli said.

“In August 2018, the complainant’s lawyer made a search at the land office and found that a new private caveat has been entered by another company,” he said.

He said that in September 2018, the complainant also received a letter from the vendor company’s lawyer asking the complainant to cancel his company’s private caveat on the land and also began court proceedings against the complainant.

Ramli said that in January this year, the Kuala Lumpur High Court decided in favour of the vendor company after finding that the RM4.8 million deposit paid by the complainant to the legal firm appointed by the vendor was not in the account of the legal firm.

“The case is being investigated under Section 409 of the Penal Code,” he said.

Ramli said 31 CBT cases with losses exceeding RM35 million were reported against legal firms throughout the country in 2023, while 22 cases involving losses of over RM19 million have been reported as of May 15, 2024.

“Therefore, anyone dealing with lawyers especially for transactions involving big amounts of money is advised to always check the presence of the money to prevent such cases from happening,” he said.

He suggested that clients open joint accounts with their lawyers to prevent CBT cases and urged the Bar Council to take firmer action against errant lawyers. — Bernama