First National slams corruption claims

A national real estate group accused of cooking the books has come out swinging against reports of internal upheaval, saying it is “under attack”.

In a letter to the group’s members, First National chairman David Nitschke categorically refuted mainstream media reports of the group’s mismanagement and manipulation of books, emphasising that the network is “in excellent shape as the forthcoming financial results will testify”.

The reports also claimed the existence of a reform group of “disgruntled” First National real estate agents seeking an audit of the company’s books for the past five years.

Fairfax reported that the reform group was believed to be supported by approximately 40 agents, however Mr Nitschke said the group was actually much less significant in size.

“There was a group of four members who called themselves the Governance Reform Group who were looking for some changes,” he told REB.

In his letter Mr Nitschke claimed that the group is now disbanded and its founding members have assured the company’s board that they provided no information to the media.

He slammed the recent reports, saying they were based on “outdated [information] or misinformation, rumour, gossip and deliberate falsehoods”, and “designed to cause maximum harm to the network, divide the membership, and to personally vilify our CEO, former and current directors and senior staff”.

“It serves no purpose other than to try and cause harm to our brand,” he said.

He also hit back at the claims of corruption levelled at the company’s chief executive officer Ray Ellis.

“Ray and his team have the absolute and unqualified support of the Board and we are extremely grateful for their loyalty, commitment and continued dedication to the tasks at hand in the fact of what are extremely trying times for them and their families,” it said.

He also questioned the motives of those who had tipped Fairfax off.

“It would seem there are still those within and outside the network who are hell-bent on trashing our house in pursuance of their misguided personal agendas – and everyone else be damned!” the letter said.

He refuted claims that there was “internal upheaval within the network” but said the group appeared to be “under attack”.

Mr Nitschke’s letter called for the group’s members to “focus on our future”.

“We must remain vigilant against those who have set themselves to destroy us. We must stop interacting with disaffected former members and employees who have no investment or interest in our success,” he said.

[Related: Real estate boss pleads guilty to fraud]

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