A former Victorian real estate agent has been convicted of withdrawing more than $100,000 in funds belonging to clients, with the intention of putting it towards a deposit on a commercial property in the Melbourne CBD.
Kylie Jane Campbell, 49, of Port Melbourne, pleaded guilty last week before an eight-day trial was to commence at the Melbourne County Court, where she was contesting two charges each of causing a deficiency in her company’s trust account and wrongful conversion of funds.
The court heard how Ms Campbell withdrew $100,000 from her company’s trust account in February 2018, intending to use the funds as part of a deposit for a property in Lonsdale Street, Melbourne.
Ms Campbell was sentenced to a three-year community corrections order and must complete 300 hours of unpaid community work. She was also ordered to repay $94,000 to the Victorian Property Fund for money paid to compensate former clients.
Consumer Affairs Victoria Director Nicole Rich said her agency’s action against Ms Campbell reflected that it would hold agents accountable if they misuse money from their trust account – which holds client funds, including sales deposits and rent - for their personal gain.
‘Clients should be able to feel at ease knowing their trust account funds are managed by professionals,’ she said.
‘Ms Campbell’s actions were an abuse of her clients’ trust for personal gain.’
‘This conduct is also a disservice to the wider industry, risking damage to its reputation and that of the majority of agents who fulfil their legal responsibilities.’
Consumer Affairs Victoria’s investigation into Ms Campbell began when two witnesses made claims against the Victorian Property Fund, which provides compensation for clients who have suffered financial loss as a result of agents’ misconduct. Two further witnesses then came forward to provide statements.