A Gold Coast property agent has been sentenced to nine months in jail for breaches relating to the management of trust accounts and failing to have a licence.
Steven Chen, from United Property Specialists, pleaded guilty to five charges of improperly paying out trust account money and one charge of carrying out the business of a real estate agent without the appropriate licence.
The South Magistrates Court imposed a sentence of nine months' imprisonment for the charges of improperly paying out trust account money. The sentence of one month of imprisonment was imposed for the charge of carrying out the business of a real estate agent without the appropriate licence. The sentences are to be served concurrently.
Mr Chen will be required to serve three months before being considered for conditional release. He has also been permanently disqualified from holding a property agent’s licence.
The court heard, in charges brought by the Queensland Office of Fair Trading, that between July 2011 and November 2011, unauthorised withdrawals and transfers were made from Mr Chen’s trust accounts, with detriment to consumers of $324,480. Mr Chen failed to account for the monies or pay them to those entitled to them.
Consumers who suffered financial loss as a result of the unlawful trust account dealings will be able to apply for compensation through a claim fund administered by the Office of Fair Trading.
The Queensland Office of Fair Trading has also reminded agents they are not to deal with trust account money in any way other than as authorised by the owner of the money or by the law.
This news comes just a day after Real Estate Business reported a Victorian agent will serve 200 community service hours after it was found he illegally claimed a First Home Owner Grant (FHOG), despite already owning a house.