Footscray conveyancer Helen Kevin has had her business shut down and risks jail if she breaches a Supreme Court order banning her from doing conveyancing work, after failing to pay or deliver up $2.2 million in client funds.
On Friday 23 September, the Supreme Court of Victoria made final orders against Ms Kevin, 40, also known as Helen Nguyen, preventing her from performing the functions of a conveyancer and from handling or receiving trust money.
The court also agreed with Consumer Affairs Victoria’s request to wind up her business, Star Wool Conveyancing.
A Consumer Affairs Victoria investigation found Ms Kevin:
- failed to maintain any permanent accounting records, as required under the Conveyancers Act 2006
- had continued to act as a conveyancer despite her licence being suspended and
- had failed to account for $2.2 million of trust money.
In his decision, Justice Stephen Kaye described Ms Kevin's offending as 'egregious', and noted that her victims were 'probably people who had just made their way to this country and are doing their best to make their way in it.'
Several of Ms Kevin’s clients were of Vietnamese and Chinese background and had a poor level of English. Consumer Affairs Victoria helped those clients make claims against the Victorian Property Fund (VPF), to ensure their property settlement transactions would take place as planned, despite Ms Kevin being unable to account for their funds.
The VPF has so far paid out the $2.2 million to 13 of Ms Kevin’s clients. Other claims are being assessed.
The fund offers compensation for monetary loss due to misappropriation by a licensed estate agent or a licensed conveyancer, or an employee of those professions.
Justice Kaye’s orders preventing Ms Kevin from working as a conveyancer also apply to anyone who assists her to work in the industry.
Star Wool Conveyancing, based at 250 Barkly Street Footscray, was placed in receivership and Martin Galea appointed as receiver.
Ms Kevin was ordered to pay Consumer Affairs Victoria’s court costs.
For more information on seeking compensation from the Victorian Property Fund, view our Compensation claims - property page.