A BRISBANE real estate agent has been banned from working in the industry for ten years after admitting to stealing almost $20,000 from his company’s trust account.
Paul James Wilsher, director of the now deregistered real estate agency Spot4Rent, was this week convicted of misappropriating trust money in Brisbane Magistrates Court.
The court heard that, between 1 January 2016 and 13 May 2016, Mr Wilsher siphoned a total of $14,056.41 from his agency’s trust account.
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The dodgy agent admitted to transferring the money into his own bank account and using it for personal expenses.
The Office of Fair Trading (OFT) appointed receivers over the business in July 2016 and found an $18,375.41 shortfall in the trust account.
The company was officially deregistered with the Australian Security and Investments Commision in August 2016.
Affected consumers were repaid loses via a claim fund administered by the OFT, which Mr Wilsher will be pursued to reimburse.
In sentencing on Wednesday, 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.
He was disqualified from working as a real estate agent for 10 years, fined $15,000 and ordered to pay all court costs within three months, or face being sent to jail.
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