A former Cobden estate agent has been sentenced to three months in jail and gave an undertaking to the court to be of good behavior for two years after pleading guilty to almost 40 charges relating to mismanagement of his clients’ money.
David Alexander Scott Steel, 57, and the company Realestate Property Pty Ltd (ACN: 114 758 217), trading as “David Steel First National”, were convicted for the mismanagement of real estate trust funds. The company was also fined $10,000.
Director of Consumer Affairs Victoria, Sam Jenkin, said this sends a strong message that estate agents must be diligent in their dealings with trust account and bond money.
“If estate agents do the wrong thing, they will be caught and will face the full force of the law.”
“This is a significant outcome that sends a firm message to estate agents that they must meet their responsibilities.”
“The Victorian community, and all honest estate agents, rely on Consumer Affairs Victoria taking action against those that break the law.”
Mr Steel, and Realestate Property, pleaded guilty to 37 charges concerning trust account deficiencies and defalcations, including fraudulently converting trust money in breach of the Estate Agents Act 1980.
Mr Steel, and his company, also pleaded guilty to a charge concerning the failure to lodge bonds in breach of the Residential Tenancies Act 1997.
Under Victorian laws, an estate agent has strict obligations to deposit clients’ money into a relevant trust account.
For more information, view What is an estate agent trust account?