Cherie Howie

Cherie Howie is a reporter for the Herald on Sunday.

Forgery sees real estate agent stripped of licence

Delawer Kumandan.
Photo / Supplied
Delawer Kumandan. Photo / Supplied

A real estate agent has been stripped of his licence after forging a signature and taping it on to a property settlement notice.

The Real Estate Agents Disciplinary Tribunal ruled that Delawer Kumandan forged the signature of a lawyer, who was acting for those involved in the sale of a property at 3207 Great North Rd in 2009. Last week, they agreed he should lose his licence.

Kumandan was working as an agent for Harcourts' Eastzone Realty in Howick in 2009 when the forgery took place. He was charged following a complaint by Eastzone director David Clifton.

According to the tribunal's report, Kumandan was the sole agent for Great North Road Investments when it agreed in June 2009 to sell the property to Desray Riedal for $580,000. Twelve days later Kumandan on-sold the property for Riedal, selling it for the same price to a G.M. Chetty or nominee.

In August, a Harcourts' administrator chased up the settlement papers and spoke to Kumandan about contacting the lawyer to finalise the deal.

Soon after, the administrator found a "confirmation of a settlement" fax which had a smaller, cut out piece of paper sticking to it which showed the lawyer's name, signature and date. She showed the fax to other staff.

When another lawyer complained to Eastzone that the property would not be settled, the administrator told Clifton about the fax. Kumandan claimed she had altered the fax to cover her own shortcomings.

Acting in his own defence, Kumandan, a trained lawyer, said he should keep his licence as no one had lost money. As an immigrant from South Africa and the sole breadwinner of his family, he would not be able to survive without his licence.

Tribunal chairwoman Kate Davenport said standards must be maintained in the industry.

Davenport rejected Kumandan's claims of a racist conspiracy. She also delayed cancelling Kumandan's licence for a month so he could ask the High Court to stay the tribunal's decision pending an appeal.

- Herald on Sunday

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