A Wollongong-based agent has confessed to stealing from her company’s trust account to subsidise her gambling addiction.
Megan Harrod admitted to stealing from her company, Harrods Real Estate, between 2010 and 2012 and spending it on poker machines at Wests Illawarra and the Shellharbour Club.
NSW Fair Trading has alleged the total amount taken was more than $15 million, but Ms Harrod’s lawyer said she disputed that amount.
Fair Trading obtained records that revealed Ms Harrod had gambled $10.1 million on poker machines over a seven-year period, including the years she was stealing from her company.
The records also showed she won a combined $9.1 million during the same period.
Ms Harrod’s crimes were discovered by her father and founder of Harrods Real Estate, Jim Harrod, who reported his daughter to Fair Trading in early 2012.
The family has since repaid almost two-thirds of the outstanding money.
Ms Harrod pleaded guilty in Wollongong Local Court on Tuesday to two charges of fraudulently converting money as a licensee, relating to $1.46 million taken from the agency’s rent trust account and $65,500 taken from the sales trust account.
The court also heard that the 49 year-old had previously had her real estate licence disqualified for three years for misappropriating trust account funds.
In her position as director of the agency, she was the sole signatory to the rent account and shared co-signing authority with her brother on the sales account.
This allowed Ms Harrod to take money out on multiple occasions for her own use. In order to cover her tracks, she falsified various corporate book-keeping records and had manipulated the company’s account conciliation to give the appearance they were balanced.
An external manager was appointed to oversee the company in September 2012 and after Fair trading brought in a forensic accountant to examine the books, it was found that Ms Harrod had taken a total $1,534,623 from the accounts.
The court heard Ms Harrod had been banned in 2011 from holding a real estate licence or being involved in the real estate business for 15 years.
When contacted by Real Estate Business, director Stephen Harrod said he had no comment on the case.
Ms Harrod will be sentenced at Parramatta District Court on February 14.