SINGAPORE - A former property agent was convicted on Wednesday (Sept 14) for handling $93,000 of a client's transaction money - an offence under the Estate Agents Act.
Goh Chung Yong, 48, was fined $10,000, and will be jailed for seven weeks if he does not pay the fine.
Among the 17 property agents - including Goh - who have been prosecuted since 2010, this is the largest sum involved.
Goh used the $93,000 to pay off loan sharks and later lied that the cash had been stolen from his car.
He was a property agent with Propnex Realty when he was engaged in 2015 to sell a HDB flat and help the owner buy another.
Goh told the flat owner to give him $106,000, saying that he would pass $93,000 to the conveyancing lawyers handling the new flat purchase, and would keep the rest of the money as his commission.
The flat owner lodged a complaint when the lawyers came knocking and said that they had not seen a cent of the cash.
Goh eventually repaid the money using proceeds from the sale of his own condominium unit.
The Council for Estate Agencies (CEA), a statutory board that regulates the real estate agency industry, said in a statement that consumers are advised not to hand transaction money over to agents or agencies, and also not to ask them to handle the funds.
These funds include downpayments, stamp duties and sales proceeds, as well as rental deposits and monthly rentals for HDB properties.
"If agencies or agents handle transaction monies, they may compromise the integrity of the transaction and put their clients at risk if they misappropriate the money or convert the money for their own use," CEA said.