A real estate agent convicted of tax evasion of more than $200,000 has been allowed to renew her real estate agent's licence.
Catherine Mary Foot, known as Kate Foot, pleaded guilty in 2011 to various charges under the Tax Administration Act 1994 involving the evasion of $222,171 in income tax and GST.
The Wellington real estate agent was sentenced to eight months home detention and 250 hours of community work.
On September 3, Foot's application to renew her salesperson's licence was rejected by the registrar of the Real Estate Agents Authority (REAA) on the grounds that she was not a fit and proper person to hold a licence because of her previous convictions.
Foot appealed the decision to the Real Estate Agents Disciplinary Tribunal (READT), which granted her licence be renewed.
When Foot was made aware that she was to prosecuted by the IRD, she voluntarily had the REAA place her licence on hold and stopped working as a real estate agent.
At the READT hearing, Foot acknowledged the offending, but said she was given bad advice from her partner, who was acknowledged as the "architect of the offending".
At the hearing, 11 people gave evidence in support of Foot renewing her licence, including a senior local body member, real estate agent and Justice of the Peace who said he didn't think Foot would ever offend again.
"I have total confidence in my estimation in this regard," he said.
Another witness who gave evidence was Foot's former boss, Rob Garlick of Leader's Real Estate Ltd.
Mr Garlick said in his evidence there was a job available at his company for Foot if her licence was renewed.
"I have never evidenced prior to the tax matters any dishonesty on the part of the applicant in any business matter," he said.
Foot had two other offers of employment during the hearing, and other offers of mentorship.
The READT said when awarding Foot the opportunity to renew her licence it was aware the public might wonder why a person who had committed a significant fraud could operate as a real estate salesperson because of the need for complete integrity and honesty in the industry.
"As we have covered above, the applicant has strong support, substantially from experienced people of integrity in the industry, and has a very sound record in her past as a real estate salesperson.
"She is highly regarded by her peers and we have imposed what we regard as strong supervisory conditions which should be effective.
"Also we accept that, within reason, the better approach in such a situation as the applicant's is that we look forward rather than backwards."
The READT granted her licence on the conditions that she must work for a well-established real estate agency, must work under the mentorship of Mr Garlick, must not be involved in any business, especially property development, and for 12 months must meet for two-monthly mentorship.
Mr Garlick told NZME. News Service today that Foot wasn't currently working for Leader's, but a position was open for her.