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OFT fines second agent this week

OFT fines second agent this week

by Reporter 1 comments

Stacey Moseley

Another agent has been caught in Queensland Office of Fair Trading’s (OFT) crackdown on trust account breaches.

The second casualty of the clean out is Sarah Jane Townsend, director of BAccommodated on the Gold Coast.

Ms Townsend and her company were fined $15,000 and $20,000 respectively in the Southport Magistrates Court for making unauthorised withdrawals from a trust account.

Ms Townsend pleaded guilty on behalf of herself and the company to a total of 38 counts of taking trust account money without authorisation.

The OFT investigated the company after an audit showed irregularities and revealed Ms Townsend had authorised $202,948 to be withdrawn from the trust account before she was entitled to do so.

Ms Townsend told the OFT in an interview that she used the trust money to pay staff wages and other business operating costs, and did not know drawing trust money before transactions were finalised was illegal.

The court heard Ms Townsend had since repaid the money to the trust account and no property owners were financially affected by the unauthorised withdrawals.

No conviction was recorded against either Ms Townsend or her company.

This comes just days after the Queensland Office of Fair Trading announced an agent was fined $12,000 and banned from holding a real estate licence for five years after pleading guilty to misrepresenting the amount of rent collected to unit owners and taking money from the trust account for her own use.

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