Land owner Lauto to sue sister-in-law for fraud

11 Sep 2012

Vanuatu Daily Post

In 2010 the Efate Island Court granted the customary right on behalf of Family Itai Lauto to his second born son Bernard to take care and have the right to distribute the custom properties belonging to the late Erakor businessman Itai Lauto.

Two years later when Bernard Lauto, equipped with a statement from the Acting Attorney General Mrs Viran Molisa Trief that he is the land owner of title 12/0914/026 at Eranas (haf rod Erakor), wanted to lease that land he found out that it had already been leased.

According to evidence provided in a Supreme Court Claim by Lauto’s lawyer Robert Sugden the caretaker Minister of Land, Steven Kalsakau, had approved a different lease over the same land and had it registered on 13 June, 2012.

The lessor of the lease is Mrs Timaima Tountan Lauto, the wife of Lauto’s deceased elder brother, and has an eight-year-old son.

“Since 10 February 2012 I had submitted the lease to the ministry of lands so that I could have it registered but it has been lying there until now. I only found out later that Minister Kalsakau had already signed the lease to my sister-in-law in June,” Mr Lauto told Daily Post.

Bernard Lauto is now suing his sister-in-law for fraud because Mrs Lauto knows that after her husband and his elder brother died the Efate Island Court had granted Bernard Lauto the customary land lease title 12/0914/026.

“The Efate Island Court did not hand the Residential Lease Title at Eranas to the wife of my brother. Mrs Tountan Lauto knows that her son is eight years old and not an adult who could be registered as a lessee,” he said.

Mr Lauto is also suing the caretaker minister of lands for fraud because when the Minister approved the lease for registration on 31 May he allegedly knew that Mrs Tountan Lauto did not have the rights to the lease.

The Attorney General’s Office had advised the Director General of Lands in writing in a correspondence date 10 February 2012 that Mr Bernard Lauto was the customary land owner of the land yet Minister Kalsakau approved the lease to Mrs Lauto.

Minister Stephen could not be reached for comment on Sunday as he could have acted in the manner he did to safeguard the future of Mrs Lauto’s eight year-old-son who happens to be Bernard Lauto’s nephew.

Meanwhile Mr Lauto has served Mrs Tountan Lauto on Tuesday last week that he is suing her for fraud. Two other defendants in the Supreme Court Claim are the Minister of Lands, and the Director of Land Records.