A real estate agent has been fined $5000 and had his licence suspended for one year after his company, Southern Star Real Estate Pty Ltd was found to have been backdating sale of land and house contracts to avoid paying the full amount of stamp duty.
Following complaints from purchasers and a referral from the State Revenue Office, Consumer Affairs Victoria investigated and subsequently applied to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) for an inquiry into the licensee under the Estate Agents Act 1980.
In its decision, on 1 May 2012, VCAT upheld allegations brought by the Director of Consumer Affairs Victoria, finding that Giovanni Marvelli, in his capacity as a licensed estate agent and officer in effective control, failed to prevent Southern Star Real Estate Pty Ltd, through its representatives, from making false and misleading representations in newspaper advertisements that:
- consumers did not have to pay stamp duty on house and land packages
- stamp duty was payable only on the land portion of house and land packages.
Mr Marvelli was found to have engaged in conduct that rendered him unfit to hold a real estate agent’s licence. His licence was suspended for one year from 2 May 2012.
The tribunal also ordered that Mr Marvelli pay $5000 to the Victorian Property Fund.