Craigieburn estate agent Konstantinos Balasis has been sentenced to imprisonment and must pay more than $200,000 compensation after pleading guilty to trust account fraud offences.
Mr Balasis was sentenced at Broadmeadows Magistrates Court on 14 November to 12 months’ imprisonment with a non-parole period of six months.
Mr Balasis and his company Victorian Realty Group Pty Ltd were licensed estate agents that operated an agency called Century 21 Complete Properties Craigieburn, from 2009 to 2012.
The Director of Consumer Affairs Victoria alleged that Mr Balasis, in breach of the Estate Agents Act 1980:
- converted to his own use $346,900 that he received as deposits on the sale of 12 Craigieburn townhouses, between January 2011 and August 2011. Mr Balasis took the money from the agency trust account and failed to return it
- failed to pay two sellers of a property in Roxburgh Park $25,000 that he was holding on their behalf, in April 2012. Mr Balasis did give them a cheque for this money but the cheque bounced. He then gave them a replacement cheque but it also bounced
- failed to pay two homebuyers a deposit of $35,995 that he was holding on their behalf, in May 2012. They had decided not to go ahead with the purchase of a Craigieburn property. Mr Balasis gave them a cheque to refund their deposit, but it bounced
- failed to pay a seller $30,500 that he held on her behalf, in July 2012. The homeowner had sold her property but Mr Balasis failed to give her the deposit to which she was entitled.
In April 2012, Consumer Affairs Victoria inspected Century 21 Craigieburn’s records and seized documents. This led to the criminal prosecution.
Magistrate Patrick Southey said Mr Balasis’ offences were a breach of trust and left the community out of pocket, as affected consumers made claims against the Victorian Property Fund.
The amounts involved were large and general deterrence was of high importance in this case, he said.
Mr Southey said he would have imposed a 20-month prison sentence with a 10-months non-parole term, had Mr Balasis not pleaded guilty.
Mr Balasis was ordered to pay $203,992 in compensation for the Victorian Property Fund, and $1400 costs.
Mr Balasis has lodged an appeal against the sentence and was granted bail until his appeal is heard in the County Court of Victoria on 11 August 2014.
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Mr Balasis is based in Victoria, Australia.