The price of insider trading in Victoria.
Article originally published OCTOBER 25, 2005 –Reviewed and approved.
By Neil Jenman
Simon Lukauskas is a Melbourne estate agent. Sorry, make that “was” an estate agent.
Yesterday (October 25), the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT), found that Simon had committed eight breaches of the Estate Agents Act. He was fined and lost his real estate license.
But, according to Simon, it was all an “unintentional mistake”.
Here’s what happened.
A 91-year-old lady decided to sell her home. Simon was appointed as her estate agent.
Simon described himself as an award-winning salesperson with “levels of professionalism, integrity, honesty, commitment and passion that no other agent can match.”
Just the sort of agent that elderly folk need.
Simon told the lady’s granddaughter that “a naïve young couple” wanted to buy her grandma’s property for $160,000. All was agreed and the property was sold.
It turned out, however, that the home was worth closer to $200,000 and that the buyer was Simon’s flat mate – who later became his lover. Perhaps the sale ignited a romance.
Simon’s employers, Hocking Stuart, were not as starry-eyed as the nouveau-riche flat mate. They fired him and reported him to Consumer Affairs Victoria.
And that’s how Simon ended up at the Tribunal yesterday, his career in tatters. But it was all a mistake, according to Simon.
In Victoria there are strict laws about agents and their family members buying homes from their clients. Consumer Affairs Victoria are known to pounce on insider traders.
But Simon Lukauskas didn’t think the law applied to flat mates. Such a simple mistake but such a glaring example of how some agents focus on the legal law while ignoring moral laws.
Consumer Affairs wanted a five-year disqualification and a five-thousand-dollar penalty. Fairly mild for costing a ninety-one-year-old lady around $40,000. Bag snatchers get stiffer penalties when they take hundreds from old ladies, never mind thousands.
The Tribunal said his lack of remorse and his failure to accept that the property had been undersold were “factors which indicate a high rather than a low penalty”. Quite right.
Simon Lukauskas was fined $2,000 and lost his license for two years.
Huh? Another mistake, surely?
No, more like a joke.
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