An agent claiming an association with realtors Chase Commercial, was able to convince a prospect to part with a $70k deposit for a prime Capalaba industrial site, when the property had not in fact, been listed with them.
Claims by Brisbane agent James Lyons that he was “effectively a sub-agent” for Chase, in the marketing of the former boat yard on Old Cleveland Road, were found last month – by QCAT member Anne Forbes – to have been false.
Lyons got pen to paper from Mark Finnegan in December 2012. The deal had his company Gateway Storage Holdings Pty Ltd, buying at $1.4 million – presumably to extend its self-storage shipping container business – from aged care group, Superior Care. The buyer paid the deposit into the agency’s Westpac account.
When the seller still hadn’t countersigned by mid-February, Finnegan lost patience and called for his deposit to be returned.
That never happened.
In an attempt to find if the cash was still secure, Westpac put on a trace.
The outcome was startling. From “the licensee’s business cash reserve account”, the deposit had been “followed by a series of internet withdrawals of large, rounded amounts, leaving a credit balance of just $2.73” only two weeks later.
QCAT was adjudicating an ultimately successful buyer request, for restitution of its loss – claimed to have been due to misappropriation of the deposit or from the neglect of the agency – from the PAMDA “claim fund”.
Subject to appeal, Lyons and his company were ordered to pay the compo payout to the buyer, back to the fund.