A Preston woman has been jailed for one year, and must complete a three-year community corrections order following her release, after admitting she stole or misused almost $130,000 of clients’ money while operating as a conveyancer (including during a period while she was unlicensed).
Meganita Marannu, 31, was found guilty of two charges brought by Consumer Affairs Victoria under the state’s conveyancing laws:
- causing a trust account deficiency, and
- obtaining financial advantage by deception.
Ms Marannu was also found guilty of two theft charges, brought against her by Victoria Police under the Crimes Act 1958.
- transferred almost $100,000 of clients’ money that was meant to be held in trust, into an account she operated, and
- stole more than $32,000 that was meant for clients’ property settlements.
One client of Ms Marannu’s who had purchased a home, deposited more than $44,000 into the trust account of Ms Marannu’s business (Bonzi Conveyancing Pty Ltd – no longer operating). This money was to be held in trust until ready to be transferred to the State Revenue Office (stamp duty fees) and Land Victoria (registration fee). When the client had yet to receive the Certificate of Title from Ms Marannu many months after settlement was due, they did an online search and found that the property title was not in their name. Ms Marannu had never lodged her client’s funds, instead transferring them into an account she operated.
Ms Marannu instructed another client to deposit more than $20,000 into Bonzi Conveyancing’s trust account, while she was unlicensed. The client later found out that their deposit had not been transferred as required, and therefore settlement of the property did not take place.
Among other things, the court took account of Ms Marannu’s previous offending when handing down the sentence and noted that had she not pleaded guilty at the earliest opportunity, the jail term would have been four years.
The affected clients were able to get their funds back by applying to the Victorian Property Fund.
We have taken previous action against Ms Marannu and her company, when both were operating as conveyancers when not licensed to do so. For more information about that action, see the Meganita Marannu and Bonzi Group Pty Ltd – Court action page.