The Real Estate Authority has laid six charges against two Harcourts agents and one former agency boss after an $8.5 million shortfall from two companies involved in a 10-branch Auckland network once headed by Gurpreet, or Preet, Grewal.

An authority spokesperson said today charges had been laid before the Real Estate Agents Disciplinary Tribunal against three men:

GURPREET GREWAL:

• Charge one: misconduct under the Real Estate Agents Act 2008 - wilful or reckless contravention;

• Charge two: disgraceful conduct;

• In the alternative to charges one and two, misconduct, seriously incompetent or negligent work.

JOSEPH VOORDOUW:

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• Charge four: misconduct - seriously incompetent or negligent work;

• Charge five: misconduct - wilful or reckless contravention of client care rules;

• In the alternative, misconduct - seriously incompetent or negligent work or unsatisfactory conduct.

GARRY MASON:

• Charge 6: misconduct - wilful or reckless contravention of client care;
• In the alternative misconduct - seriously incompetent or negligent work or unsatisfactory conduct.

No date was provided for the tribunal hearing.

Chris Kennedy, Harcourts chief executive, said today: "While the matter is under investigation, it would be inappropriate to comment."

Gurpreet Grewal, also known as Preet, said today he was no longer working as an agent.

"What charges are we talking about? My lawyer is dealing with it. My understanding is it's still under review," Grewal said.

Voordouw is listed on the Harcourts' web site as the branch manager of its office on Universal Dr, Henderson.

Asked when the case would be heard, Voordouw said: "It's still being decided. I will wait for the process to take its course. The facts will come out in due course. I'm not concerned about anything I did at Preet & Co."

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Mason is listed on Harcourt's web site as the branch manager at Whakatane.

Asked about the case, Mason said today: "I'm not prepared to talk about that before the hearing. It's before the tribunal. It would be unwise to say anything. It's certainly changed or ruined my life. It's all before the courts."

Kennedy said in December that Grewal "has voluntarily suspended his licence while the REA looks into possible abnormalities in the trust account for Preet & Co Real Estate.

"However, Harcourts Group Ltd has ensured no member of the public with monies in the trust account has been affected. Preet Grewal is a shareholder in Preet & Co Real Estate Ltd and Preet & Co Rentals Ltd with 10 offices."

Grewal is listed on the authority's web site as having a licence from March 31 this year to September 20.

Last year, Grewal said Harcourts Preet & Co had the Manukau, Otahuhu, Botany and Ellerslie offices, and had also taken over the established Harcourts offices in Howick, Meadowlands and Pakuranga.

Last month, liquidators were appointed to two Harcourts' companies which sold and managed properties in Auckland. Creditors appointed Mike Lamacraft of Meltzer Mason as liquidator of Preet & Co Real Estate and Preet & Co Rentals. The companies already had Meltzer Mason staff appointed as receivers and voluntary administrators.

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Meltzer Mason's April 6 estimated statement of affairs showed Preet & Co Rentals' secured creditors claiming $1.9m, unsecured creditors claiming $75,000 and preferential creditors including Inland Revenue wanting $96,000.

Preet & Co Real Estate's estimated statement of affairs on April 6 showed secured creditors claiming $3.3m, IRD claiming $1.4m and unsecured creditors wanting $1.9m.

* UPDATE: After publication, the Real Estate Authority updated Grewal's licence status, noting it is suspended.