Real estate agent fined for failing to cooperate with audit

A real estate agent has been fined $500 and ordered to pay costs of $553.90 by the Mandurah Magistrates Court for failing to cooperate with requests from the auditor during the termination audit of his previous business.

Gregory James O’Farrell, former Director of O’Farrell Property Group Pty Ltd of Mandurah, did not renew the company’s triennial certificate and the business ceased to operate in June 2017. A termination audit of the agency’s accounts was required to be submitted to Consumer Protection in order to comply with the Real Estate and Business Agents Act.

Mr O’Farrell appointed an auditor to carry out the work in March 2018. The auditor had the added task of completing the 2016 audit after he became aware it was incomplete. The auditor was unable to properly complete either audit as Mr O’Farrell failed to provide all the information and documents that were requested.

Mr O’Farrell currently operates Seachange Realty in Mandurah.

Commissioner for Consumer Protection David Hillyard said the onus was on Mr O’Farrell, who was the sole Director and supervisor of the agency, to provide the information.

“Even if a real estate agent shuts up shop, they are obliged to ensure all their yearly audits are up to date and provide whatever information or documents that are required to complete those audits,” Mr Hillyard said.

“By failing to do so, Mr O’Farrell has made it difficult for the Department to determine whether the funds being held in trust for clients were properly managed and the money properly dispersed when the agency closed down.”

“The annual audits are important safeguards for consumers so agents need to ensure that the reports are submitted within the required time so they can be checked for compliance.”

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