COTTESLOE real estate agent Frank Torre has been found guilty by the State Administrative Tribunal of dishonest conduct, including taking $315,040 from his company Sunrun’s trust accounts used for deposits on nine western suburbs homes.
“In this instance, Mr Torre sought to argue that as a sales representative he should be held to a lower standard than that of a fully licensed agent.” acting Consumer Protection commissioner David Hillyard said.
Mr Hillyard said his department’s investigation showed Mr Torre had guided Sunrun’s business and he had now been held accountable after being taken to the SAT last year.
“Our case acts as a clear warning to all sales representatives who are directors of corporate real estate agencies that you cannot escape or avoid liability for your actions simply because you are not licensed as a real estate agent,” Mr Hillyard said.
The SAT heard Mr Torre took commissions totalling $315,040 early for the sales of nine properties in Mosman Park, Cottesloe, North Fremantle, Peppermint Grove, Woodlands, Swanbourne and Claremont in 2012 and 2013.
“In January 2013, $6000 was withdrawn from the Sales Trust Account and transferred to Mr Torre’s personal account when he was only entitled to take $457.59,” Mr Hillyard said.
It was found another $1000 was transferred to Mr Torre’s personal bank account from a sale from which he was not entitled.
The SAT found Mr Torre dishonestly got sellers’ consent for the transactions, despite consent not making the commissions legal, and homebuyers did not give permission for a deposit to go into a separate, interest-producing account.
Other proven allegations comprised Mr Torre’s failure to properly manage trust accounts, including not recording all sales transactions, failing to balance books in 2013, and not informing the Commissioner for Consumer Protection about an overdrawn account.
The SAT fined Mr Torres and his trading company House Real Estate WA a combined $24,000, while Sunrun was also ordered to pay a $3000 fine.
Mr Torre must pay $4884 costs and had his trading licence suspended for three months.