New Zealand Law Society - Real estate agent fraudulently obtained commissions

Real estate agent fraudulently obtained commissions

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A real estate agent has pleaded guilty to fraudulently obtaining commissions from a local council on charges brought by the Serious Fraud Office (SFO).

The SFO says Shirley Anne Johnston, 66, obtained 13 commission payments from the Selwyn District Council between March 2007 and July 2015 for work that she did not do. Nearly $150,000 of these payments were transferred into a bank account controlled by her and her husband and business partner, Stephen Gubb, 62.

Ms Johnston received the commissions on 13 land sales as a Phoenix Harcourts agent in Christchurch. However, Ms Johnston was not the real estate agent for these property sales at Izone - a Selwyn District Council business park development in Rolleston.

Mr Gubb, who was a property consultant at the business park, instructed Buddle Findlay to pay $300,829 in commissions to Phoenix Harcourts which then paid Ms Johnston $149,094 for her purported work.

Ms Johnston has been remanded on bail until sentencing on 20 September at the Christchurch District Court.

Mr Gubb is currently serving a jail sentence of two years and nine months for his part in the fraudulent scheme as well as a separate offence of submitting a false invoice to the Selwyn District Council. He has previously been prosecuted by the SFO on fraud charges involving about $1.18 million. He was convicted and sentenced to four years imprisonment on these charges in December 2003.

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