A 25-year industry veteran who was disqualified for a year is still working in an administration role in the industry, with his new boss keen to give the former agent a second chance based on his otherwise good character and unique personal circumstances.
After using a clients’ home deposit to pay debts, Jerry Aquino was disqualified from holding a licence or being an agent’s representative until 31 December 2014, following a Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal hearing initiated by Consumer Affairs Victoria.
Mr Aquino is currently employed at top-end agency Bennison Mackinnon in a sales support role.
According to Andrew McCann, director and group sales manager at Bennison Mackinnon, Mr Aquino’s new role doesn’t violate the terms of his ban.
“When we found out, we adjusted his role to suit the terms. We wanted to still support him as he has a terminally ill daughter at the moment,” he told Real Estate Business.
“We don’t condone anything that he did, but we feel what he did was very much out of character.”
Mr Aquino has been known by the directors at Bennison Mackinnon for 20 years, according to Mr McCann.
“During his hearing one of our directors gave a character reference for Jerry which I believe is part of the reason he isn’t banned for a longer timeframe,” Mr McCann said.
The 48-year-old was employed with Jellis Craig Armadale when he misappropriated five cash payments totalling $12,500 in late 2011.
Jellis Craig chief executive Nick Dowling said their system noticed something wasn’t adding up. “Our computer systems picked up an imbalance in the books,” he told Real Estate Business.
“And seeing as Mr Aquino had left the week before we knew something didn’t add up. After a couple of hours we received a call from the client’s solicitor who also noticed the irregularity.
“It didn’t take long for us to figure out where things went wrong.”
According to Mr McCann, he heard about the allegations after Mr Aquino had already become his employee.
“When we found out, we removed him from a public position … he is now basically in an administration position and is supporting staff," he said.
“We haven’t made any commitments in regards to re-instating him after his ban has lifted, however he wouldn’t be employed here if he didn’t deserve a second chance.”