Gold Coast real estate agents banned for life
22 November 2018
A former Gold Coast real estate agent was fined $10,000 and sentenced to nine months’ imprisonment by the Southport Magistrates Court today (22 November 2018) after charges were brought by the Office of Fair Trading (OFT).
Helen Elizabeth White, owner of My Realty Gold Coast, was found guilty of 13 charges relating to unauthorised use, withdrawal and misappropriation of trust monies.
Ms White was sentenced to nine months’ imprisonment, suspended for three years, and fined $10,000. A conviction was recorded.
Ms White’s husband Graham John White, also a real estate agent who worked at My Realty Gold Coast, was found guilty of two charges of failing to conduct and lodge trust account audits for the business.
Ms White and Mr White were permanently disqualified from obtaining a real estate agent licence or certificate.
The court heard from July 2015 to November 2016, Ms White wrongly converted and mismanaged trust account monies to a total sum of $316,895.70.
The former agent used the money for a range of business and personal expenses, including to purchase a rent roll of fourteen properties.
As part of the investigation, the OFT froze the trust account operated by Ms White on 9 November 2016. However, Ms White continued to operate the business and signed and issued five cheques from the account totalling $16,874.
The OFT served Ms White with a notice of licence suspension in December 2016, prohibiting her from trading as a real estate agent.
In spite of this, Ms White continued to act as a property agent, using Mr White’s licence, until Mr White’s licence was suspended on 4 January 2017.
In sentencing, Magistrate Howden said Ms White had shown disrespect for the law by the significant misuse of trust monies and breach of trust.
Fair Trading Executive Director Brian Bauer said there was no place in the industry for real estate professionals who misappropriated trust money.
“This obvious disregard for consumers and for the law made it clear that Ms White is not fit to retain her licence,” Mr Bauer said.
“Agents must ensure they fulfil their legal obligations and act in a professional manner befitting their role.”
Anyone who believes a real estate agent may have misappropriated trust money is encouraged to lodge a complaint and provide available evidence to the OFT at www.qld.gov.au/fairtrading.