Agent accused of fraudulent deals

03:55, Jun 20 2012

An Auckland real estate agent used his own mother as a middleman in his allegedly fraudulent real estate dealings, the Real Estate Agents Disciplinary Tribunal has heard.

Those dealings, which allegedly involved selling a property twice and pocketing the difference, were described by the Real Estate Agents Authority lawyer Luke Clancy, outside the court, as its most serious case to date.

Rajneel Raj, who was dumped as co-owner of Kiwi Best Realty (trading as Remax Best), in Henderson when the investigations came to light, failed to show for today's hearing.

He faces five charges involving the sale of six different properties around Auckland where he was said to have organised a sale to a "dummy" second person related to him, and then immediately on-sold the property at a higher price. The contracts settled on the same day.

Raj would profit by the difference in those prices - a sum Clancy told the tribunal totalled $189,000 not including commission.

Raj falsely represented the purchase price of the properties, deceiving the bank - in all cases the Bank of New Zealand - into providing 100 per cent finance. He also forged signatures on documents, Clancy said.

Real Estate Agents Authority senior investigator Ross Gouverneur told the tribunal Raj's business partner asked him to resign when he became aware of what was going on. Because Raj had ensured only one of the two transactions of each purchase went through the Kiwi Best agency, his business partner had no knowledge of what was going on.

The tribunal, headed by Judge P F Barber, heard five witnesses and has affidavits from six more. While he reserved his decision, he indicated the panel could "probably very well find the charges proved".

But he wants another hearing to look at penalties and address the matter of compensation, if any, to those affected. It would also give Raj a chance to address the matter of penalties. If found guilty, he could lose his licence and have to pay compensation of up to $100,000.

The tribunal last year suspended Raj's licence to work as an agent pending this hearing.

In 2008 Raj was suspended from holding a real estate certificate for two years. At the time he worked for the Otahuhu branch of Barfoot & Thompson. That case involved three transactions involving family members, contravening Real Estate Agents Act laws.

Asked about Raj's whereabouts, Clancy said he understands he is still living in Auckland and that contact had been limited.