Court nails real estate boss after long-running pursuit

An agency and its staff have been slapped with almost $140,000 in fines and costs for a fraudulent sales strategy.

The Perth Magistrates Court last week imposed a $30,000 fine on Westpoint Realty and a $6,000 fine on its director, Norman Phillip Carey.

Mr Carey was also ordered to pay costs of $97,400 for making “false or misleading representations to consumers”, according to the WA Department of Commerce.

The original trial, which ended in 2011, found that Westpoint Realty misled purchasers of units in a Perth development.

The firm and its agents falsely informed buyers that there had been indefinite delays to the project due to planning approvals.

“The agents caused purchasers to terminate their contracts of sale, then each of the units were re-sold at a higher price within a short period of time,” the Department of Commerce said.

Mr Carey was found guilty in February 2011 of five charges of breaching the Fair Trading Act in relation to the sale of a residential property development in 2005.

The Supreme Court dismissed Mr Carey’s first appeal on 10 January 2012 and the Court of Appeal dismissed a second appeal on 28 August 2013.

Westpoint Realty, which is now in liquidation, was also convicted but did not appeal.

Consumer protection commissioner Anne Driscoll welcomed the Perth Magistrates Court’s latest decision.

“Despite Mr Carey’s numerous appeals against the original convictions, our pursuit and defence of this matter has been vindicated by the substantial penalty handed down by the magistrate and the awarding of our significant legal costs,” she said.

Ms Driscoll said property transactions must be completely transparent and unethical agents must be punished.

“I hope that the outcome of this court case acts as a warning to others in the real estate industry who may be tempted to bend or hide the truth for financial gain,” she said.

Magistrate Malone denied Mr Carey’s application for a spent conviction when handing down his decision.

Two former Westpoint Realty sales representatives pleaded guilty to related charges in September 2010, were fined a combined $2,750 and were granted spent convictions.

A third sales representative pleaded guilty in December 2010, was fined $1,000 and ordered to pay court costs of $1,180.

[Related: Court finds agency and sales rep guilty]

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