A former agent’s representative who falsified records and mishandled his clients’ trust account funds for personal use, failing to meet his responsibilities under the Estate Agents Act 1980, has been banned from being an agent’s representative until 2033. He must also pay a $2,500 fine to the Victorian Property Fund.
Shane Hooley, 44, of Ravenswood, transferred more than $17,000 in account funds to his personal bank account between February and July 2019.
When his employer identified the discrepancies, it notified Consumer Affairs Victoria, ended Mr Hooley’s employment and reimbursed the mismanaged client money using the company’s own funds.
The penalties follow disciplinary proceedings launched by the Director of Consumer Affairs Victoria at the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal, which found Mr Hooley:
- did not act fairly, honestly and to the best of his knowledge and ability in performing his agent duties;
- engaged in unprofessional or conduct detrimental to the estate agent industry’s reputation or interests;
- is not of good character or otherwise not a proper person for employment as an agent’s representative.
Estate agents and agents’ representatives must protect any client funds by temporarily holding them in a trust account. They must not use those funds for general business expenses or personal use.
Consumer Affairs Victoria’s Director Nicole Rich said it was essential for agents to uphold their trust obligations.
`We will continue to focus on ensuring agents and agent’s representatives manage their trust accounts as a priority. If agents fail to meet their responsibilities, or misuse trust funds, we will act,’ she said.