Anna Leask

Anna Leask is a police reporter for the New Zealand Herald.

Forest 'not real estate agent's to sell'

Janine Wallace was suspended after being found guilty of misconduct. Photo / Doug Sherring
Janine Wallace was suspended after being found guilty of misconduct. Photo / Doug Sherring

A real estate agent suspended from practising after being found guilty of misconduct allegedly sold a German couple a $500,000 forestry block that she did not own, and was not for sale.

Janine Ann Wallace, 53, was interviewed by police for more than five hours on Wednesday before she was arrested and charged with "real estate fraud".

The Herald has learned that at least one charge relates to a German couple, whose complaint to police includes claims that Wallace sold them the forestry block in Clevedon, South Auckland, and signed paperwork to say she was the vendor.

A vendor is the legal owner of land, or the entity authorised to sell it.

But according to the complaint the land the couple "purchased" was not owned by Wallace, she had no authority or permission to sell it, and it was not even on the market.

It is understood that at the time of the sale Wallace was suspended from working as a real estate agent. According to court documents, that suspension only lapsed on June 18.

Wallace, who lives at her mother's Pokeno farm, was released on police bail after she was charged on Wednesday, and ordered to appear in the Pukekohe District Court next week. She refused to speak about the charges yesterday.

Police allege Wallace defrauded multiple victims "while acting as a real estate agent".

"In one of the cases, an overseas couple paid a large sum of money on a Clevedon property that was not for sale," Detective Senior Sergeant Aaron Proctor said.

The Germans were aware of the arrest but did not want to speak publicly about the case while it was ongoing.

The charges are a new chapter in a series of legal problems for Wallace. In February, she was declared bankrupt in the High Court at Auckland.

In December, the Real Estate Agents Disciplinary Tribunal suspended her for 18 months after finding her guilty on misconduct charges - unlicensed trading, putting undue pressure on vendors over a commission agreement and selling a carpark she did not own at Princes Wharf.

Describing Wallace's conduct as "seriously incompetent or negligent", the tribunal considered banning her permanently by cancelling her licence, but instead decided on the suspension.

"We observed that she is very distressed by these charges having been proved and does not seem to accept guilt," its decision stated.

"Indeed, she maintains that she always acted in good faith one way or another and that she was always giving of her very best efforts to the customers involved in each charge and often at quite some personal inconvenience to herself."

- NZ Herald

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