(MENAFN - Arab News) The committee monitoring real estate investment has blacklisted more than 120 real estate fund owners for alleged involvement in real estate scams and fraudulent practices.
Hassan bin Fadl Aqeel, undersecretary for domestic trade at the Ministry of Commerce and Industry and spokesman for the committee, said these citizens included those wanted by the authorities as well as those banned from traveling.
There are at least 22 others against whom arrest warrants have been issued for their failure to cooperate with the committee, Al-Eqtisadiah business daily reported on Wednesday.
According to Aqeel, solid and movable assets, including bonds and investment portfolios of 17 owners of real estate funds, have already been frozen until the settlement of disputes with shareholders.
He said the committee is currently handling some 350 real estate investment funds, including both licensed and unlicensed ones. Some of these funds date back over 35 years. The committee is taking appropriate legal measures against those involved in fraudulent practices, he said.
Aqeel reiterated the ministry's determination to liquidate these real estate funds and resolve disputes involving their shareholders quickly in line with the directives issued by Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah and Crown Prince Naif.
"The liquidation of 62 investment funds with a total capital of more than SR2 billion has already been completed. Regarding another 61 funds, the committee could not contact their owners as they had either gone missing or we didn't have their details," he said, attributing this mainly to the funds being too old or the inability of the shareholders to provide the personal details of the promoters.
"Hence, the committee has taken steps to contact various governorate offices for information about them," he said.
The committee was formed following a meeting of the Council of Ministers in May 2008 to handle cases related to investment scams. Later in February 2009 and August 2011, the Cabinet issued a series of decisions to regulate investment funds and monitor their activities, as well as speed up the settlement of cases related to real estate shares. The Cabinet had entrusted the committee to handle the cases and liquidate the funds of those owners who swindled money out of their shareholders to protect the rights of investors.
In a decisions issued in August this year, the Cabinet had directed the appointment of judges to quickly settle cases related to real estate shares. It also authorized the president of the Supreme Judiciary Council to take necessary action in such cases in coordination with the minister of commerce and industry. It entrusted the real estate share committee to take necessary decisions regarding the solid and movable assets of shareholders, protect their rights and pass the cases to executive judges to endorse them.
"In line with the directives of the Cabinet, the committee is currently handling 108 cases involving real estate investment funds," Aqeel said. The committee will either directly liquidate them or supervise their liquidation. It has also referred cases involving 64 funds to the concerned authorities as it has no jurisdiction to deal with properties that are outside the Kingdom, Aqeel said.
He noted that the committee was not in a position to settle disputes involving nine real estate investment funds because some of their properties were in the name of Saudi Aramco and some properties held invalid title deeds.
"The committee has referred these cases to the higher authorities to settle the problem," he said, adding that another 45 real estate funds have been referred to the liquidator to complete liquidation procedures.
According to Aqeel, the committee is awaiting the settlement of disputes over properties involved in investment scams by the concerned courts before starting liquidation procedures. He warned both Saudis and foreigners against becoming victims of real estate fraud. "They should be careful to make investments only in licensed projects and only after all necessary legal procedures are completed to ensure the protection of their investments," he added.