A former real estate agent has received an 18-month Community Corrections Order and must complete 300 hours of community service after being convicted of trust account offences.
Zhenhua Yang (also known as Bruce Yang) and Ausco Real Estate Pty Ltd (ACN: 164 104 858) each pleaded guilty to offences of causing a deficiency of trust money under the Estate Agents Act 1980. Mr Yang was the Officer in Effective Control and sole director of Ausco at the time of the offences. The company was also convicted and fined $15,000.
Between April and November 2017, Mr Yang withdrew funds totalling $3,260,000 from Ausco’s real estate trust account and transferred them into another Ausco bank account, before later returning them to the trust account.
Trust accounts are established to keep clients’ money separate from general estate agency business funds. Under Section 90 of the Estate Agents Act 1980, estate agents must not cause a deficiency in a trust account.
Consumer Affairs Victoria is currently prosecuting three other estate agents for alleged misuse of clients’ trust money.
Consumer Affairs Victoria handed out 117 infringement notices amounting to more than $120,000, as well as official warnings, to estate agents who did not lodge their trust account audit reports during 2020.
Estate agents whose 2021 trust account audits have been delayed due to COVIDSafe Settings can apply for an extension of time. View Trust account audit requirements for estate agents and conveyancers during COVID-19.