An estate agent’s representative who used part of a clients’ home deposit to pay debts has been disqualified for more than a year.
Gerardo (Jerry) Aquino, an agent’s representative for 25 years, was disqualified from holding a licence or being an agent’s representative until 31 December 2014, following a Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal hearing initiated by Consumer Affairs Victoria.
The 48-year-old was employed with Jellis Craig (Armadale) Pty Ltd when he misappropriated five cash payments totalling $12,500, between 6 August and 1 October 2011. The payments were part of his clients’ $32,150 deposit on an Abbotsford off-the-plan property.
Mr Aquino used the cash to pay debts instead of depositing it into the agency’s trust account, as required by the Estate Agents Act 1980.
His actions were discovered after the clients asked the estate agency for trust receipts. The agency’s principals repaid the trust account from their own funds.
On 6 December 2012, the tribunal found that Mr Aquino, as an agent’s representative:
- is not of good character, and is not a fit and proper person to be an agent's representative
- fraudulently converted into his own use money he received in the course of his duties – a breach of Section 91 (2) of the Act
- failed to pay all money received from his clients to a licensed agent for whom he was acting, or to the agent’s trust account – a breach of Section 59(6) of the Act
- did not act honestly and to the best of his knowledge and ability in performing his functions – a breach of Regulation 19 of the Estate Agents’ (Professional Conduct) Regulations 2008
- engaged in conduct that was unprofessional and detrimental to the reputations and interests of the estate agency industry – a breach of Regulation 21(2).
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