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Agent abuses trust

18 June 2019

A Bundaberg real estate agent was fined $18,000 in the Bundaberg Magistrates Court yesterday (17 June 2019) for one breach of the Property Occupations Act 2014 and two breaches of the Agents Financial Administration Act2014 after charges were brought by the Office of Fair Trading (OFT).

Mark William Mergard, director of Bundaberg based agency Realestate Now Pty Ltd, pleaded guilty to the charges.

No conviction was recorded.

The court heard that, in October 2016, Mr Mergard directed the buyer of a property to transfer a deposit of $50,000 to purchase a property into his agency’s general account.

Mr Mergard failed to bank this money into the trust account as required by legislation and proceeded to make seven transactions from this deposit, applying the money to his own business purposes.

Fair Trading Acting Executive Director Craig Turner said the case served as a reminder to real estate agents of their obligations when it came to trust accounts.

"Placing trust money into a general account instead of holding it in the trust account and disbursing it to persons not entitled, rather than accounting to the client, are serious breaches of the legislation under which agents operate,” Mr Turner said.

“Agents who fail to comply with their trust account obligations will incur penalties.”

Information about real estate agent’s obligations and a guide to trust accounts are available on the OFT website at www.qld.gov.au/fairtrading.