Despite winning a landmark court case last summer where a Bahamian judge ruled they would regain more than 1,200 acres of land in Abaco and New Providence, a family from Stone Mountain, Georgia have been forced to return to The Bahamas time and time again… and they still don’t have their land.
That’s because there are a gaggle of evil Bahamians who, in a conspiracy with their Bahamian lawyers, are taking advantage of the dysfunctional Bahamian courts to steal the family’s land.
The worst part is that judges in the Bahamas allow this to go on.
Claudia Cyrus, from Georgia, said yesterday that after the court made its ruling last year, she thought it would be a walk in the park to reclaim the land her now deceased Bahamian grandmother Elsie Agalla Franks left to her and her family members.
But to her utter “disgust,” Mrs. Cyrus has discovered that many Bahamians have fraudulently acquired, sold and even built on the 300 acres of land off Harold Road in New Providence and the more than 899 acres scattered across Abaco.
“There’s been so much pilfering of the estate, never notifying the heirs that this was taking place. There’s been a lot of court proceedings having the estate involved but no one decided that we needed to be addressed,” she said.
“We live in the United States, so trying to put something in the Bahamian newspapers, trying to give us notice, that’s underhanded. The other part is that there have been so many written documents handed into the courts that are fraudulent documents.”
Mrs. Cyrus is on her fourth trip to The Bahamas to meet with lawyers and the police in a bid to finally get access to these properties.
She is one of eight living heirs to the New Providence and Abaco properties.
Little does she know that this will go on for years. There are police, lawyers, real estate agents, politicians, judges, court employees, government officials and prominent Bahamians who have gotten rich stealing land.
Some wonder how the real estate industry can even survive with so much fraud and land theft occurring.
“This is the ‘Bahamian way,'” said another victim who is very familiar with this type of fraud and corruption.
Mrs. Cyrus explained that her grandmother was born and raised in The Bahamas, but migrated to the United States when she was very young.
Mrs. Cyrus said because she lives thousands of miles away from The Bahamas it is very difficult to keep track of the property and who was illegally claiming it.
But with much determination, perseverance and expensive plane tickets, she and her family saw to it that the matter was investigated by police.
“Why do we as Americans have to fight in the Bahamian court system for what’s legally ours?”
“They’ve (the police) called in a number of people and where it started as going back just a few years, they are going back with the investigations to 40 years,” Mrs. Cyrus added.
Mrs Cyrus doesn’t realize that this is all part of the game. The police pretend to investigate, the courts pretend to be concerned, but nothing ever is really resolved. Sometimes, the victim wins, only so they can pull the rug out from under them later, after a slick-willy Bahamian lawyer pulls some trashy legal stunt that should never be accepted in a court of law.
“So, a lot of people are going to be involved with this. What they need to do is come forth, contact Commercial Crimes Unit and let them know their part in this whole action,” said Mrs. Cyrus, the naive foreigner.
The Georgia native added that the undocumented owners of this land have taken things too far in trying to get these properties and noted that they have reportedly gone to the courts claiming that Mrs. Cyrus and the other rightful heirs were dead.
“There’s an affidavit filed in court that says out of the nine heirs only three were living,” she said. “I found out through this document that I was deceased. Not only me but six of the other heirs were deceased too, but really, we are alive and well, except one who has died.”
“And then they want to take it to court and say they own this property because they have been there for so long. Why do we as US citizens have to fight for property that is rightfully ours, when the courts have said over and over again that my grandmother was the lawful legal heir? Why do we as Americans have to fight in the Bahamian court system for what’s legally ours?”
That is a question many foreign landowners, and even “unconnected” Bahamians have been asking for years.
“I would never invest in property in The Bahamas,” one wealthy New Yorker said recently. ” There is no protection for property rights at all.”
Mrs Cyrus said while she prefers to not call names, there a lot of prominent Bahamians are mixed up in this case.
A local lawyer, who asked not to be identified for fear of repercussions, said he can not think of one prominent real estate company in The Bahamas that has not intentionally benefited from stolen land.
“There are so many prominent Bahamian families whose wealth came almost exclusively from crime,” the lawyer said.
“All I can say is more will be revealed as this investigation continues,” Mrs Cyrus said. “When this is finalised you will be surprised at the names that are coming up in this investigation.”
Fat chance the situation will ever be resolved. The crooks’ strategy is to make foreigners come to The Bahamas over and over again, dozens of times, over many years, until the people are plain worn out. Then, when the foreigners give up, the crooks win. This has been going on for decades.
Mrs. Cyrus leaves the island on Thursday but is hoping that anyone who is familiar with the tracts of land will contact her while they are still in town at 462-4177 or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.