A woman who dodged tax to fuel her gambling addiction has been allowed to continue working as a real estate agent.
A Real Estate Agents Disciplinary Tribunal decision, published today, revealed the woman's salesperson's license was to be renewed despite a history of tax evasion.
The woman, who had worked in real estate since the late 1980s, had previously pleaded guilty in a district court to several charges related to tax evasion totalling $233,866.31.
She was sentenced to five months' community detention, 200 hours community work and ordered to repay the total sum.
This money, which came out of a manufacturing business she ran, went towards the $280,000 spent on online gambling over a period of two years.
After sentencing she'd applied for renewal of a salesperson's license - which the Real Estate Agents Authority declined.
It was argued her ability to make reparations was reliant in large part on her ability to continue working.
Despite letters of support from family, former clients, other members of the real estate industry and her parish priest, the authority registrar was not satisfied this was enough to prove her honesty and integrity in real estate transactions and that she no longer had a gambling problem.
While the offences were not related to the woman's real estate agency work, the registrar said these would be regarded by members of the public as disgraceful and would undermine public confidence in the industry.
However, the woman indicated she'd taken steps to address her gambling addiction and that she'd given relatives access to her personal accounts so they could monitor her activity.
The real estate agent had also agreed to conditions imposed by the agency she worked for, including allowing it to make GST payments directly to IRD on her behalf.
She had also disclosed to her current clients her history of offending and was prepared to continue doing so.
Prior to her struggles with gambling, the woman was described as having been a successful businesswoman and real estate salesperson.
She was described as a generous, kind and caring person always willing to help others.
The tribunal ruled in favour of renewing the real estate license subject to certain conditions.
These included having her employer's continual support and monitoring, that she continued to address her gambling addiction, have her bank account monitored, disclose her convictions and meet her reparation payments.
Although the tribunal said her failure to comply with tax obligations could not be treated lightly, in considering her application it was necessary to be "forward-looking".
"We take into account the applicant's offending did not relate to her work as a licensed salesperson and we take into account the many statements supporting the applicant."