Property company and director fined $215,000 in total for unlicensed work

Lim Koon Heng, 70, Director of Franks Property Pte Ltd.
Lim Koon Heng, 70, Director of Franks Property Pte Ltd.ST PHOTO: WONG KWAI CHOW

SINGAPORE - A property management company and its sole director were on Wednesday (Dec 21) convicted for unlawfully conducting estate agency work without being licensed by the Council for Estate Agencies (CEA).

Franks Property was fined $115,000, while its sole director, Lim Koon Heng, alias Franks, was fined $100,000.

The fines are the heftiest meted out by the courts to a company and an individual for unlicensed estate agency work so far, said the CEA.

Both Lim, 70, and his company each pleaded guilty to three out nine charges.

The proceeded charges arise from three property transactions involving a total commission of $94,976.64.

This is also the highest amount of commission collected by an unlicensed estate agency which the CEA has prosecuted.

A district court heard that prior to the CEA's formation, Lim and/or Franks Property held a house agent licence issued by the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore.

However, after the CEA was set up in October 2010, all property agencies and agents were required to be licensed and registered with it before they can carry out estate agency work.

But Lim and Franks Property did not do so.

Around 2012, Franks Property negotiated and arranged for the purchase of a home at 22 Vanda Drive for $8.02 million.

The transaction was completed around June 30, 2013, and Franks Property received a co-broke commission of $37,476.64 from the seller's real estate agency, ERA Realty Network.

Around early 2013, the then-owner of a shophouse unit at 16 Smith Street also engaged Franks Property to find a buyer.

The owner, Peng Kwee Watches and Jewellery, agreed to pay Franks Property a commission fee of 1 per cent of the property's sale price.

A prospective buyer, Vancouver Capital, bought the unit for $7.5 million. Franks Property and Vancouver Capital's agent, Newsman Realty, were each paid a co-broke commission of $37,500.

Around August 2013, the then-owners of a 12th-storey unit in Far East Shopping Centre also engaged Franks Property. They wanted to sell the unit for $1 million and agreed to give Franks Property the excess amount as commission.

Lim found a prospective buyer who bought the property for $1.02 million. The sellers paid Franks Property a commission of $20,000.

In all the three transactions, Lim had signed off as Franks Property's director on the invoices issued for the commission fees.

The court also heard that prior to CEA's investigations on Franks Property in 2013, Lim did not even take the real estate salesman course or the relevant examination to be registered as a salesman.

He took the course only in April this year and the examination in May, but he did not pass the examination.

Franks Property was registered with the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority on April 16, 1993.

Both Lim and the company could have been fined up to $75,000, while Lim could also have been jailed for up to three years, for each of the proceeded charges.