Permanent ban for settlement agent who raided trust account

WA Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety
  • West Leederville settlement agent struck off for unauthorised withdrawals
  • Illegally transferred over $29,000 into own bank accounts, a credit card account
  • SAT orders follow extensive Consumer Protection investigation

A West Leederville settlement agent who illegally transferred $29,030 from a trust account into her personal bank accounts and a work credit card has been permanently banned from ever working in the industry again.

The State Administrative Tribunal (SAT) ordered Shannon Marie Del Valle, formerly trading as Real Asset Conveyancing, be reprimanded and permanently disqualified from holding a licence and triennial certificate for breaching the Settlement Agents Act. She was also ordered to pay costs of $5,577.

Under the Settlement Agents Act, money is only allowed to be withdrawn from a trust account for the purposes of completing a settlement or with the written consent of the parties.

However, an investigation by Consumer Protection found that on 15 occasions between November 2020 and September 2021, Ms Del Valle unlawfully transferred a total of $29,030 out of the agency trust account and into accounts she controlled.

The investigation followed the appointment of an independent supervisor by Consumer Protection in 2021 to seize control of the business and look into reports that a number of settlements and disbursement of funds had failed to be completed for properties located across Perth.

Commissioner for Consumer Protection Trish Blake said it was crucial that the huge sums involved in property transactions were handled professionally and honestly by licensed agents.

“Consumers need to have confidence that the money they are entrusting settlement agencies to look after will be handled in the correct way,” Ms Blake said.

“The laws place strict procedures on how funds are transferred during property transactions in WA – their sole purpose being to protect consumers’ money in what is no doubt one of the biggest financial investments of their lives.

“Breaches of these laws can lead to dire consequences, such as delaying settlement at great cost and inconvenience to both buyers and sellers.

“The penalty in this case should serve as a warning to the settlement industry that severe consequences – including the loss of an agent’s career – await those who don’t comply.”

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