An Auckland real estate agent who was knowingly involved in a mortgage ramping scheme has had her licence cancelled and been fined $5000.
Zohreh Homei Azimi was found guilty of two charges of misconduct under the Real Estate Agents Act last September.
The first was for allowing a fraudulent loan application to be made in her name for the purchase of a New Lynn property and the second was for listing and selling three other properties - in Sunnyhills, One Tree Hill and Onehunga - on more than one occasion each, knowing she was doing so to facilitate a fraudulent mortgage scheme.
In the Real Estate Agents Disciplinary Tribunal's September decision, it was stated that in April 2011 a Kiwibank investigation revealed what appeared to be a fraudulent mortgage syndicate.
The group was believed to have been run by a group of about 20 people and Ms Azimi was alleged to have been in, or associated with the group, introducing vendors to purchasers.
The prosecution alleged that Ms Azimi's participation as a real estate agent lent itself to making the transactions appear legitimate.
The group worked together, submitting fake loan applications which made the applicant appear eligible for a loan, the decision stated.
After a period of time, the applicant then defaulted on their mortgage and the property would go to a mortgagee sale.
The next associate in the chain would then be invited to purchase the property, albeit with its price ramped up, and a similar procedure would follow leading to another mortgagee sale.
At the mortgagee sale, the bank would be paid back the forced sale value of the property, typically lower than the original mortgage taken out against the property, leading to a profit for the syndicate.
Those involved would then file bankruptcy or flee the country, it was alleged.
Ms Azimi was working for Barfoot & Thompson at the time. She was dismissed once the offending came to light.
At her tribunal sentencing in November, Ms Azimi's lawyer Martin Hislop said his client was unemployed and the sole caregiver of her elderly mother which had caused her a significant amount of financial strain.
"She has reached a stage where she just wants this ordeal to be over and hopes to one day be in a position where she is accepted back into this industry."
Publication of Ms Azimi's charges and suspension had already caused her shame, embarrassment and anxiety, Mr Hislop said.
Real Estate Agents Disciplinary Tribunal chairman Judge Paul Barber said Ms Azimi's offending was concerning and at a serious level.
"We consider that the type of dishonesty displayed by the defendant must bar her from any future role as a real estate salesperson.
"The public must be protected from the activities with which the defendant became involved."
As a result, Judge Barber ordered Ms Azimi's licence be cancelled and that she be fined $5000.
She could not be reached for comment.
Barfoot & Thompson managing director Peter Thompson said there was a spate of mortgage ramping offending five years ago, but it was now far less prevalent.
He said he was happy with the tribunal's decision.
"We certainly don't want to see that type of person involved in real estate."