A Gold Coast real estate agent who used trust account funds to keep his business afloat has been convicted and fined $100,000 in the Southport Magistrates Court.
The QLD Office of Fair Trading said Wilen Pty Ltd, trading as Wilson Allen Real Estate Agents, was fined $100,000 and licensed director, Jeffrey Dean Allen, was ordered to complete 240 hours of community service for 26 counts of permitting unauthorised drawings from trust accounts in breach of the Property Agents and Motor Dealers Act 2000.
Mr Allen entered a guilty plea.
According to the QLD Office of Fair Trading, the court heard Mr Allen’s illegal transactions included withdrawing commissions before sale contracts had settled. No conviction was recorded against Mr Allen, and he has surrendered his real estate licence and is no longer operating as an agent.
Office of Fair Trading Executive Director Brian Bauer said Mr Allen admitted to the breaches, saying he withdrew the money because the business’ cash flow was suffering from the global financial crisis.
“The Office of Fair Trading received advice from an auditor in February 2011 that shortfalls of up to $164,000 had been detected,” Mr Bauer said.
“An investigation by Fair Trading revealed multiple withdrawals from the company’s trust account, including one of $75,000 on 30 November 2010 which did not relate to any transaction.
“Mr Allen told Fair Trading officers he started making the withdrawals to keep the doors of the business open and the staff paid, and intended to pay all the money back. However, the Office of Fair Trading will not tolerate traders misusing funds held in trust.
“Trust money means exactly what it says– it is money held in trust for someone else,” Mr Bauer said.
“In the case of a real estate agent’s trust account, the owners of the trust money are generally people selling their home, or renting a property, through the agent.
“Trust money is never a private source of funds for an agent to call on when money is tight.
“The penalty was imposed to reflect the seriousness of these types of offences and to act as a deterrent to others who may attempt to engage in this illegal conduct.”