VCAT bans estate agent for 8 years

Former real estate agent Afif Shaba has been reprimanded and made ineligible to hold a licence for eight years for his role in a $50,000 trust account fraud.

The Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal found Mr Shaba knowingly authorised his business, Northern Real Estate P/L, to fraudulently convert to its own use $50,000 in trust account money it had received between January and November 2012. Mr Shaba, the sole director and officer in effective control, also breached the Estate Agents Act 1980 by knowingly authorising his business not to retain about $50,000 in money owing to clients.

He admitted to Consumer Affairs Victoria inspectors that he had withdrawn the trust money to pay his business expenses in March 2012, after a downturn left him in financial difficulty. Mr Shaba estimated that, at one point, there was a $50,000 deficiency in the trust fund, which he reduced to $15,000 by the time the inspectors visited in November 2012. Mr Shaba undertook to pay back the missing money, have his trust accounts audited, sell the business and stop trading as an estate agent. Northern Real Estate had its licence cancelled in March 2013 and the business was sold.

The tribunal reprimanded Mr Shaba and declared him ineligible to hold a licence until 9 July 2022.

Fraudulent conversion of trust money carries a maximum penalty of 10 years jail.

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