Springfield Lakes agent ripped off $100k from trust account
A Springfield Lakes real estate agent and his company have been fined $2500 and given a suspended sentence after an Office of Fair Trading investigation.
Kevin Roy Tomlinson, principal licensee and sole director of Exposure Real Estate (QLD) Pty Ltd, pleaded guilty to wrongfully transferring money from a rental trust account to his company's expense account over a seven-month period.
Tomlinson was sentenced in Ipswich Magistrates Court on July 30 to four months' prison, wholly suspended for two years. His company was fined $2500.
A conviction was recorded.
The court heard that, from December 2018 to June last year, Tomlinson made a series of withdrawals totalling over $100,000 from his company's rental trust account.
The court was told he used the money for a variety of business expenses including loan and lease repayments and staff wages.
Under the Property Occupations Act 2014, it is an offence to use trust money in this way.
Trust money can only be released to a person who is entitled to it.
In sentencing, Magistrate Virginia Sturgess commented on the seriousness of the offending and abuse of the agent's position of trust.
She also took into account that the agent had partially repaid the money before the involvement of the OFT and that the rest was repaid before Tomlinson was charged.
Fair Trading executive director, Brian Bauer, said the case was a reminder to real estate agents that they had a responsibility to those they represented, and that trust account funds were off limits for personal or business use.
"Agents who fail to comply with their trust account obligations will incur serious penalties," Mr Bauer said.
"Agents are able to get advice from legal and financial professionals as well as the OFT if they have questions regarding trust accounts."
Details on trust account obligations, including a guide for property agents, are available on the OFT website.