A real estate agent has been disqualified by the State Administrative Tribunal from holding a certificate of registration for ten years after he misappropriated two payments totalling $21,000 into his personal bank account.
Matthew Piero Liscia of Dianella was fined $2,000 for two breaches of the relevant real estate industry Codes of Conduct and was also ordered to pay legal costs of $1,000. The ten year ban was backdated to begin from November 2017 when his employment was terminated.
In August 2016, while working for a Perth city commercial real estate agency, Mr Liscia sought to charge a religious group $4,000 to view a commercial property in Carlisle that they were interested in buying. The group eventually agreed to pay $1,000 for the viewing and deposited the money into Mr Liscia’s personal bank account.
It is a serious breach to charge for an “open day” and to impose any charges that are not authorised by the property owners as outlined in the Selling Agency Agreement.
In September 2017, Mr Liscia was the selling and leasing agent for a warehouse in Carlisle when a food distribution company expressed interest in leasing the property with a view to purchasing it at a later date.
Upon signing the offer to lease the premises, Mr Liscia demanded that the company pay $20,000 of the $43,000 deposit. The company directors did as instructed and deposited the initial $20,000 into Mr Liscia’s personal bank account.
Later, Mr Liscia represented to the company’s directors that the offer to lease would lapse unless they paid the $23,000 balance of the deposit, even though it was not yet due. The company’s directors refused and contacted other staff at the agency who identified that the misappropriation had occurred.
Mr Liscia was immediately dismissed by the agency for his serious misconduct and transferred the $20,000 deposit from his personal bank account into the agency’s trust account that same day.
Commissioner for Consumer Protection Penny Lipscombe said the two deals were cloaked in deception and illegality.
“Mr Liscia’s actions showed ignorance and disregard towards the strict conduct requirements for people working in the real estate industry, Ms Lipscombe said.
“He took advantage of his clients’ lack of knowledge and went behind his employer’s back by diverting the funds into his personal bank account.
“The open day charge was illegal in itself and the warehouse lease deposit – as with all deposits – must be paid into the agency’s trust account for safe keeping, which only happened once the deception was uncovered.
“This is exactly this type of deceptive and illegal behaviour that the licensing system is designed to deal with and it was only a matter of time before the misconduct was discovered.
“In this case, the ten year ban is appropriate for this level of illegal behaviour. We hope it acts as a deterrent to others in the industry who might contemplate deviating from the laws that regulate the real estate industry in WA.”