Spotted – dodgy real estate agent
18 October 2017
A Brisbane real estate agent was fined $15,000 and disqualified from working in the industry for ten years by the Brisbane Magistrates Court yesterday (17 October 2017), following an Office of Fair Trading (OFT) investigation.
Paul James Wilsher, director of Spot4Rent, was fined $15,000 and ordered to pay court costs after he pleaded guilty to misappropriating trust money. A conviction was recorded. He was ordered to pay the fine and court costs within three months, or will face imprisonment.
The court heard that between 1 January 2016 and 13 May 2016 Mr Wilsher transferred a total of $14,056.41 from Spot4Rent’s trust account to his personal account. Mr Wilsher admitted to OFT inspectors he had used the money for personal expenses.
The OFT appointed receivers over the business in July 2016 and found an $18,375.41 shortfall in the trust account. Affected consumers were repaid loses via a claim fund administered by the OFT, which Mr Wilsher will be pursued to reimburse.
The court further heard that Mr Wilsher knowingly failed to appoint an auditor and have his trust account properly audited for the financial period 1 October 2015 to 30 September 2016.
In sentencing, the court considered Mr Wilsher’s guilty plea, his personal circumstances and remorse, but said a strong message had to be sent to other real estate professionals.
Fair Trading Executive Director Brian Bauer said Mr Wilsher’s behaviour was disappointing and a stain on the real estate industry.
“Honest trust account management is imperative, and the OFT will continue taking action against any agent doing the wrong thing,” Mr Bauer said.
“Trust money is never for personal use, so using trust account money to pay debts or prop up a failing business is no excuse.”
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.