A former real estate agency director has been fined $9,000 and ordered to pay costs of $908 after being convicted of trust account offences.
Australian Property and Financial Exchange, known as APFX, managed residential and commercial properties for consumers in Perth prior to its deregistration in November 2013.
APFX’s former director pleaded guilty to 25 charges relating to the mismanagement of trust accounts in 2011, including the authorisation of payments to people who were not entitled to receive them and failing to balance the accounts for almost one year.
Three offences attracted fines of $1,000 each and the other 22 offences relating to the reconciliation failures incurred a global fine of $6,000.
Acting Commissioner for Consumer Protection David Hillyard said the failures exposed the company’s clients to significant losses and certainly warranted the fines imposed.
“With APFX there was a long period of offending where trust accounting errors could not be identified or tracked properly in order to identify losses sustained by consumers," he said.
“Additionally, the state of the accounts meant that some theft by employees had occurred unbeknownst to the director because the accounts had not been reconciled for some time.”
According to Mr Hillyard, a conviction concerning trust accounts generally results in cancellation of the agent’s licence and since licences in this case were surrendered some time ago, the director was granted a spent conviction.
“The director admitted the offences at the earliest opportunity, had no prior relevant offences, was clearly remorseful and did not gain personally from the conduct,” said Mr Hillyard.
“He also cooperated with the department of commerce during our investigations and has clearly learnt a harsh lesson.”
[Related: Property manager cops seven-year ban]