A Coromandel real estate agent who forged a couple's signature on an official document and then relied on it to enforce a contract will be penalised by a disciplinary tribunal.
John Lloyd, from Tairua, met a couple named only as Mr and Mrs Calder in 2006 who were interested in buying a semi-detached townhouse his company was building, according to the Real Estate Agents Disciplinary Tribunal.
The proposal was that the Calders would work with Lloyd on a design for the property and would then buy the land and the unit from him.
Lloyd prepared a memorandum of understanding (MOU) and emailed it to the Calders.
In his email, 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 Real Estate Agents Disciplinary Tribunal she did not like the terms of the MOU. They didn't 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 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 the parties on page 2 of the document.
The Calders denied they had signed the page and in 2011 complained to the Real Estate Agents Authority.
The authority sent the document to a forensic document examiner who found the initials were probably forged.
The expert told the tribunal that under magnification pen marks could be seen where the person writing the initials had stopped and started which was very unusual on a genuine signature.
Lloyd denied he had forged the documents, but if he had he would have ensured that the agreement was signed on every page, and not just the second page.
An REAA investigator gave evidence that when he visited Lloyd, he was only shown a colour copy of the MOU.
He said Lloyd told him the "Calders are liars and are not getting the originals".
The tribunal found Lloyd forged the initials but dismissed a charge of disgraceful conduct.
The tribunal has asked for submissions from the parties about a penalty Lloyd will face.