Rebecca Quilliam

Rebecca Quilliam is senior reporter at the APNZ News Service office in Wellington.

Couple pleased by forgery decision

Photo / Thinkstock
Photo / Thinkstock

A couple whose signature was forged onto a real estate document by a Coromandel agent are pleased he has been found guilty of forgery.

John Lloyd, from Tairoa, continues to deny he forged the document and then relied on it to enforce a contract.

The Real Estate Disciplinary Tribunal was yet to penalise Mr Lloyd, but he could face a $750 fine.

The complainants, Colleen and Grant Calder, said they were pleased with the outcome of the tribunal's decision, and it was one they had expected.

In 2006 Mr Lloyd met the Calders, who were interested in buying a semi-detached townhouse his company was building, according to the tribunal.

The proposal was that the Calders would work with Mr Lloyd on a design before buying the land and unit from him.

Mr Lloyd prepared a memorandum of understanding (MoU) and emailed it to the Calders.

In his email, Mr Lloyd described the MoU as a document to "document past discussions, record the present and future outcomes for us both".

He suggested the Calders pay him $10,000 on the signing of the MoU.

However, Mrs Calder told the tribunal she did not like the terms of the MoU. She and her husband opted not to sign it, and paid him $5000.

In March 2008 the couple agreed to a design of the property and were told a resource consent had been obtained.

They entered into an agreement for sale and purchase, but differences arose between the parties and the Calders found out a resource consent had not been granted.

They cancelled the agreement in October 2008.

The couple were then sent a copy of the MoU by Mr Lloyd's lawyer, with a note that said: "You failed to make any mention in the Memorandum of Understanding signed sometime in May 2007."

A copy of the MoU was produced, which showed initials of all parties on page 2.

The Calders denied they had signed the page, and in 2011 complained to the Real Estate Agents Authority (REAA).

The authority sent the document to a forensic document examiner who found the initials were probably forged.

Mr Lloyd denied he had forged the documents, and said if he had, he would have ensured the agreement was signed on every page, not just the second page.

The tribunal found Mr Lloyd guilty of one count of forging the initials, and said "agents of good standing would objectively consider the forgery by an agent of initials on a document as disgraceful conduct".

Mr Lloyd was charged with a second count of forging the couple's initials on the Agreement for Sale and Purchase.

However, the Calders did not believe the initials were meant to be theirs and the charge was dismissed.

Another charge relating to Mr Lloyd wrongly telling Mrs Calder a resource consent had been granted did not meet the threshold for disgraceful conduct and was dismissed because there was no real estate work involved in the transaction.

Mr Lloyd told APNZ he was innocent but could not afford a High Court appeal against the decision.

"We categorically deny everything, but we just haven't got the grunt to fight the people who have got the money to fight it."

No criminal charges had been laid against Mr Lloyd, and it was up to the Calders to complain to police if they wanted to, an REAA spokeswoman said.

The tribunal has asked for submissions about the penalty Mr Lloyd could face.

PENALTIES THE TRIBUNAL CAN IMPOSE:

* Ordering an agent's licence to be cancelled or suspended.
* Ordering their employment be terminated and that no agent employ or engage them in real estate agency work.
* Imposing a fine of up to $15,000 for an individual, or up to $30,000 for a company.
* Ordering they pay the complainant up to $100,000 compensation for actual loss.

Source: www.reaa.govt.nz

- APNZ

© Copyright 2014, APN New Zealand Limited

Assembled by: (static) on red akl_a5 at 01 Oct 2014 20:24:59 Processing Time: 1076ms