Errant real estate agent fined $10,000, suspended 6 months

Errant real estate agent fined $10,000, suspended 6 months

SINGAPORE - The Disciplinary Committee (DC') formed by the Council for Estate Agencies (CEA) has concluded the disciplinary proceedings against salesperson, Chua Cheng Thian, Benny on Feb 26.

The DC convicted Chua of three charges for breaching the Code of Ethics and Professional Client Care in handling the property transaction for his clients. Chua was sentenced to suspension of six months and an aggregate financial penalty of $10,000. Fixed costs of $1,000 were awarded to CEA.

Under CEA's disciplinary framework, salespersons who breach the Code of Ethics and Professional Client Care may face disciplinary action. The DC may, upon determination of the breach, revoke or suspend his registration and/or impose a financial penalty of up to $75,000 or reprimand the salesperson.

Chua, 54, is a registered salesperson of ERA Realty Network Pte Ltd and has been practising as a salesperson for about 17 years.

He was appointed by his clients as their salesperson to sell their property on an exclusive basis. It was agreed that a commission of 1 per cent of the selling price (exclusive of GST) would be payable by the clients on a successful sale, within the agreed period.

Chua advertised and marketed the property, contrary to his clients' best interest, through his understudy salesperson on a 'Buyer only' (or no co-broke) basis. He also stated a wrong block number on the advertisement to sieve out unrepresented buyers from salespersons. Further, he did not disclose to his clients that he had a personal interest, by way of overrider, in having the property sold to his understudy's clients.

The 3 charges filed against Chua, on which he was convicted:

a. Failure to disclose potential conflicts of interest - The DC imposed a financial penalty of $4,000 and suspended him as a salesperson for a period of six months. Salespersons have a duty to avoid any potential conflicts of interests that may not be in the best interests of their clients. Chua was representing his client to sell their property and he has to act in their interest by considering all potential buyers and obtaining the best sale price for his client's property.

However, he had a potential conflict of interest in representing the sellers as the salesperson but had an understudy salesperson who was representing the buyers. Chua was entitled to 6 per cent of the commission paid by the buyer if the property was sold to the buyer represented by his understudy salesperson. Chua therefore had a personal interest if the property was sold to the buyer represented by his understudy and had failed to declare this potential conflict of interest to his clients.

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