Two real estate agents and their companies copped heavy fines in the Brisbane Magistrates Court for failing to lodge multiple trust account audit reports.
LJ Hooker New Farm real estate agents Andrew William Clough and Brett William Greensill and their companies were ordered to pay $26,500 in fines by the Brisbane Magistrates Court.
Mr Clough, whose companies were Clough Rent Roll Pty Ltd and Clough Sales Pty Ltd, together with Mr Greensill, whose companies were Greensill Family Investments Pty Ltd and Rappara Pty Ltd, trading as LJ Hooker New Farm, pleaded guilty to 10 charges brought by the Office of Fair Trading.
The court heard that LJ Hooker New Farm failed to lodge six trust account audit reports within time for four separate trust accounts.
LJ Hooker New Farm was aware the trust account audit reports were due within four months of the audit period ending, after previously receiving official warnings and infringement notices from the OFT.
Convictions were recorded against the companies, but not against Mr Clough and Mr Greensill.
The OFT said in a media statement that audit reports are required to be submitted to the OFT to ensure that agents are properly managing client funds and all financial transactions are being accurately recorded.
In sentencing, Magistrate Merrin noted that the purpose of the legislation was ultimately to protect consumers from financial loss.
Fair Trading acting executive director Craig Turner said that real estate professionals should be aware of their obligations when operating a trust account under the Agents Financial Administration Act 2014.
“Audit measures are in place to ensure the integrity and accountability of the industry,” Mr Turner said.
“Deviations from the trust account requirements will not be tolerated. The conduct of this agency in failing to take up the opportunity Fair Trading had provided to fix its business practices was unfortunate. That the business’ practices continued to fail to meet obligations under the law is completely unacceptable.”