Real estate agent convicted for using client funds for personal use

Former real estate agent Janine Wallace has been convicted for depositing client money in her own account then using it for personal use. Photo / Doug Sherring
Former real estate agent Janine Wallace has been convicted for depositing client money in her own account then using it for personal use. Photo / Doug Sherring

A disgraced real estate agent has been convicted for depositing client money into her own account then withdrawing thousands of dollars for personal use before being declared bankrupt.

Janine Wallace's offending left Waikato vendor Peter Kendall $17,000 out of pocket, when the sale of a Tairua property fell through and deposit money owed to him was not secured in a trust account.

Wallace is no longer practising real estate work. She allowed her licence to expire in August 2013 after being found guilty of misconduct before the Real Estate Agents Disciplinary Tribunal (READT) on unrelated charges of pressuring a client to sell their vineyard, unlicensed trading, and selling a Princes Wharf carpark she did not actually own.

She also faced police charges in 2013 for allegedly selling a German couple a $500,000 forestry block that she did not own, and which was not for sale.

In the latest tribunal finding, Wallace was censured and ordered to pay $13,000 compensation to Kendall.

She had negotiated a 2012 sale and purchase agreement for a property known as Silverstream Falls for $370,000. The seller was Professional Contractors Ltd, of which Kendall was the signatory.

The purchasers, a Mr and Mrs Hammond, paid a 10 per cent deposit, which was to be held in a trust account. The deal was subject to Overseas Investment Office (OIO) approval.

The deposit was paid into the account of New Zealand Properties Ltd, which it later emerged was a company account, of which Wallace was the sole signatory.

Over the next few months she made three withdrawals from the account totalling $18,500 for personal use, the tribunal decision says.

The Hammonds failed to obtain OIO approval and the transaction failed to settle.
In November 2012, the two parties agreed to split the $37,000 deposit - $27,750 to Kendall and $9250 to the Hammonds.

Wallace repaid the Hammonds the next month, but made no repayment to Kendall and was declared bankrupt in February 2013 "at her own petition", the decision says.

She later pleaded guilty to a criminal charge of theft by a person in a special relationship. Wallace was convicted in February this year and sentenced to six month' community detention, 12 months' supervision, 150 hours' community work and ordered to pay $4000 in reparation.

In its just-released decision, the tribunal said the court sentencing still left Kendall $13,000 out of pocket.

It said that in May 2013, Wallace was charged with misconduct in connection with the Tairua transaction.

Following her conviction this year, a second misconduct charge was laid, alleging her criminal offending undermined her fitness to be a licensed agent.

At a hearing last month, which Wallace failed to attend, the prosecutor said Wallace had "abused her position of trust" by intentionally using client deposit money for her own purposes.

The offending was a "flagrant breach of her position of trust" as a real estate agent.

The tribunal agreed and found the misconduct charge was proved.

"We are in no doubt that the offence for which Ms Wallace has been convicted adversely affects her fitness to be a licensee."

Wallace's conviction for a crime involving dishonesty prohibits her from holding a license for 10 years.

The tribunal censured her and ordered a $13,000 compensation payment to Kendall.

Neither Wallace or Kendall could be reached for comment.

Janine Wallace
• Convicted this year of theft by a person in a special relationship after depositing client funds into her own account then withdrawing thousands of dollars for personal use.
• Sentenced to six month' community detention, 12 months' supervision, 150 hours' community work and ordered to pay $4000 in reparation.
• Found guilty of misconduct by Real Estate Agents Disciplinary Tribunal, which ruled her conviction undermined her fitness to hold a licence.
• Censured and ordered to pay the vendor $13,000 in compensation.
• Earlier misconduct decision for pressuring a client to sell their vineyard, unlicensed trading, and selling a Princes Wharf car park she did not own.
• Dishonesty conviction prohibits her from holding a licence for 10 years.

- NZ Herald

Get the news delivered straight to your inbox

Receive the day’s news, sport and entertainment in our daily email newsletter

SIGN UP NOW

© Copyright 2017, NZME. Publishing Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production bpcf03 at 26 Mar 2017 23:13:54 Processing Time: 735ms