THE Office of Regulatory Services have made a point of announcing the conviction of Mark Blinksell, who was the sole director of Grapevine Real Estate Pty Ltd, for misusing trust funds.
In January 2013, he received a cheque for $22,000 which was the deposit for the purchase of a property. This money was to be held in trust for a couple until their sale contract was completed.
However, Mr Blinksell paid the cheque into his business transaction account and proceeded to transfer $11,000 into a home loan account under the name of his wife and daughter. He later transferred a further $5,000 to the home loan account, and then spent the remainder of the trust money on incidental expenses.
The ACT Office of Regulatory Services investigated the matter and proceeded to take Mr Blinksell to the ACT Civil and Administrative Tribunal for disciplinary action. Mr Blinksell’s real estate and business agent licences were cancelled and he was disqualified from applying for the licences again for a period of five years.
The matter was heard on Tuesday afternoon 1 July, before the ACT Magistrates Court for the criminal component of the offences. Mr Blinksell was fined $5,000 and given a six month suspended sentence and a three year good behaviour bond, with a conviction recorded against the Criminal Code 2002 for dishonestly appropriating property. The company, Grapevine Real Estate, was also fined $5,000 with a conviction recorded against the Agents Act 2003 for receiving trust money and failing to pay it into a trust account by the next business day.
“The outcome of this matter demonstrates how seriously the !T Government takes breaches of the law by real estate agents when it comes to trust money,” Commissioner for Fair Trading Brett Phillips said.
“Real estate agents regularly handle large sums of money for their clients, and it is vital that they understand the gravity of such a responsibility.”
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