Wyeth not - Resident letting agent fined $65,000 after being caught tampering with and misappropriating from trust account
15 May 2019
A Surfers Paradise resident letting agent and his business were fined $65,000 for failing their legal obligations following an Office of Fair Trading (OFT) investigation.
Gary Anthony Wyeth, licensed resident letting agent of Wyeth Management Services Pty Ltd, pleaded guilty to one count of providing falsified documents and one count of failing to pay trust money under the Property Occupations Act 2014 in the Southport Magistrates Court on 13 May 2019.
Mr Wyeth and Wyeth Management Services were conjointly charged and ordered to pay $65,000 in fines. Convictions were recorded.
In April 2018, the OFT appointed receivers over the trust property portfolio of Wyeth Management Services.
The court heard Mr Wyeth provided falsified statements to one of his unit owner clients in an attempt to cover up a misappropriation of funds, totalling $3,740.
In March 2018, the letting agent knowingly handed over documents that contained 33 months’ worth of misleading information to OFT inspectors in an effort to hide his dealings.
The court further heard that in September 2018, receivers provided the OFT with a summary of 18 unit owners who had incurred a combined rental shortfall of $81,501.09. In addition, the Wyeth Management Services trust account only held $9,760.80, a shortfall of $71,740.29 which was subsequently the subject of a number of OFT claim fund claims.
The claim fund was set up to assist people who are out of pocket because an agent has failed to properly account for money held in trust.
In sentencing Magistrate Sinclair noted that the agent had engaged in a protracted and deliberate course of dishonest conduct.
Fair Trading Acting Executive Director Craig Turner said Mr Wyeth showed a lack of respect to the industry by failing to uphold his position of trust as a property agent.
“Any misappropriation of trust money or the production of falsified accounts will not be tolerated and will result in strong enforcement action by the OFT,” Mr Turner said.
“Actions like these undermine the image of the majority of agents who work ethically within the industry.”
Anyone who believes a resident letting agent may have misappropriated trust money is encouraged to lodge a complaint to the OFT at www.qld.gov.au/fairtrading.