Estate agent Michael Wilkes has been sentenced to five years’ jail for misappropriating $412,796.40 from trust accounts while operating inner-city Brisbane real estate agencies.
The sentence was handed down on May 22 by the Brisbane District Court.
Wilkes was director of Excalibur Property Services Pty Ltd, trading as Raine & Horne Ascot and Ivan Lazarou Real Estate, and The Art of Property Pty Ltd, trading as Elders Real Estate in New Farm.
A joint investigation by the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) and Queensland Police Service found Wilkes had illegally removed the funds from two agency trust accounts over the course of a year (November 1, 2008 to November 11, 2009) for his own personal use.
The Office of Fair Trading commenced an investigation into the agent in 2009, including a forensic examination of the trust accounts, following complaints from landlord clients.
The matter was referred to the Queensland Police Service which continued the extensive investigation and charged Wilkes with two counts of fraud.
Wilkes pleaded guilty to both counts and was sentenced to five years imprisonment, to be suspended after 18 months.
The Queensland Government’s Claim Fund had paid out over $412,000 to 70 affected clients, which Wilkes and Excalibur Property Services Pty Ltd was liable to repay.
“To date we have recovered more than $70,000 of the misappropriated funds and returned it to the Claim Fund,” said OFT executive director Brian Bauer.
“Action to recover further funds is ongoing.”
This article first appeared on Property Observer.