Coromandel agent fined over forgery
A Coromandel real estate agent has been fined $700 for forging the signatures of a couple on an official sale document.
John Richard Lloyd was found guilty of the forgery by the Real Estate Agents Disciplinary Tribunal in March and fined at a penalty decision hearing last week.
The Tairua agent "categorically" denied forging the signatures of Colleen and Grant Calder during negotiations over the development and sale of a townhouse.
However, after forensic examinations of the signatures on the memorandum of understanding, a document relied on to enforce a contract, the tribunal found Lloyd guilty of professional misconduct under the Real Estate Agents Act.
The tribunal was not able to consider revoking, or suspending, Lloyd's licence as he surrendered it two days before the tribunal hearing in March.
Lloyd and his wife Annette May, the directors of Elephant Investments, met the Calders in 2006 when they expressed an interest in buying a townhouse from them, once it had been developed, the tribunal was told.
Lloyd, who was working as a sole agent at the time but later worked for Richardsons Real Estate, prepared a memorandum of understanding, a document described as tracking discussions, outcomes, and obligations for both parties.
He suggested the Calders pay him $10,000 after signing the memorandum. They refused to sign but paid Lloyd $5000.
In March 2008 the Calders agreed to a design of the property and were told resource consent had been obtained. They then signed a sale and purchase agreement.
However, differences arose between the two parties after the Calders discovered resource consent had not been granted, the tribunal heard.
They cancelled the agreement in October 2008.
The Calders were sent a signed copy of the memorandum by Lloyd's lawyer in May 2007.
The Calders denied signing the document, and in 2011 complained to the Real Estate Agents Authority.
Forensic document examiner Linda Morrell concluded it was likely the signatures did not belong to the Calders.
The tribunal found Lloyd had forged the signatures, despite his rejection of the claims, and found him guilty of misconduct. However, the tribunal dismissed a charge of disgraceful conduct as Lloyd was acting for himself rather than as an agent.
The tribunal noted the events took place before the Real Estate Agents Act came into force in 2008.