A commercial real estate sales representative has been struck off for 10 years after misappropriating funds from two clients: a business seeking to lease a warehouse and a religious group looking to buy property.
WA’s Consumer Protection agency issued a statement outlining the ban against Matthew Piero Liscia which was issued by the State Administrative Tribunal. Mr Liscia will be disqualified from holding a certificate of registration for a 10-year period, in addition to being fined $2,000 and an order to pay legal costs of a further $1,000.
The agency said the action related to two payments worth $21,000 that it said were made into his personal bank account.
In August 2016, Mr Liscia tried to charge a religious group $4,000 to view a commercial property in the Perth suburb of Carlisle, despite it being against the state’s rules to charge for open days or viewings of properties, or to impose charges not authorised by the property owner.
A second incident in September the following year involved an unidentified food distribution company seeking to lease a warehouse with a view to purchase it.
Once the lease was signed, the regulator said, Mr Liscia demanded the business pay $20,000 of the $43,000 deposit, which the company did.
It was when he subsequently told them that the offer to lease the property would expire unless the remaining $23,000 balance was paid that the breaches were identified. The company seeking the lease refused to pay the remainder of the deposit, instead contacting other staff at the estate agency who then discovered the misappropriation of funds.
The agency promptly sacked Mr Liscia for serious misconduct, and the $20,000 deposit was transferred from his personal bank account into the agency’s trust account on the same day, Consumer Protection said.
Consumer Protection commissioner Penny Lipscombe said the instances smacked of “ignorance and disregard” of the rules governing the real estate industry.
“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,” she said.
“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 safekeeping, 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.”
Ms Lipscombe said the decade-long ban was “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,” she said.
The name of the Perth agency at which Mr Liscia was employed at the time of the incidents was not disclosed.
Adam Zuchetti is the editor of My Business, and has steered the publication’s editorial direction since early 2016.