A former Sydney real estate agent has been sentenced to a 20-month intensive correct order after mishandling $187,500 from his clients.
Mr Chung Tran was the sole director of Empire Pty Ltd, who in late 2010 entered into an agreement to be the sales agent for the “Horizon Project”, a mixed-use development in Parramatta.
Between November 2010 and March 2012, the company received deposits for off the plan apartments. Construction was scheduled to start in June 2011 with the strata plans to be registered in December 2013.
In late 2013, it emerged the building’s strata plan had not been registered. Buyers cancelled their contracts and asked for their money back but were refused.
NSW Fair Trading subsequently investigated Empire’s bank records, which revealed that soon after each deposit was received the money was moved elsewhere instead of being held in trust.
Valerie Griswold, Fair Trading NSW Executive Director of Investigation and Enforcement said the case sends a strong message to real estate agents.
“Most real estate agents are doing the right thing, but we have to make sure any that aren’t are investigated and dealt with appropriately,” Ms Griswold said.
“This case should act as a deterrent to all real estate agents. There can be no tolerance for misusing funds or other fraudulent behaviour.”
Mr Tran pleaded guilty to two counts of fraud under the Property, Stock & Business Agents Act in Parramatta Local Court and was sentenced to a 20 months Intensive Correction Order along with 300 hours of community service.
Mr Tran has a right of appeal in respect of the court’s sentence.
In 2017, Fair Trading disqualified Mr Tran from being involved in the management or conduct of a real estate agent business for a period of six years.