Melbourne-based 43-year old Indian origin Real Estate Agent Amit Miglani has narrowly avoided jail time for fraud.
Amit Miglani who studied marketing in Australia, an MBA and a masters degree in information technology, gained permanent residency and became a real estate agent.
It was revealed in Melbourne Magistrates’ Court that Amit Miglani took nearly $100,000 out of his agency’s trust account and used it on luxury cars and private school fees.
He has pleaded guilty through his lawyer, Theo Alexander, to causing a deficiency of trust money of $55,500 and fraudulently converting to his own use $42,648.98 from the trust account.
- Between 14 November 2017 and 26 July 2018, he withdrew money from SNM’s trust account, causing a deficiency of $55,000.
- Between 13 November 2017 and 19 July 2018, he fraudulently converted $42,649 of trust money to his own use.
It is an offence under the Estate Agents Act 1980 to fraudulently convert to one’s own use any money held on behalf of another for any transaction in one’s capacity as an estate agent.
The maximum penalty is 10 years in jail or 500 penalty units ($82,610)
However, Amit Miglani who was the Officer in Effective Control of the now defunct MIG Real Estate was sentenced to a community corrections order with conviction for 18 months.
This requires 300 hours of unpaid community work.
Magistrate Tara Hartnett noted in her order that she would have sent Miglani to jail.
However, she added that since he pleaded guilty which entitled him to a lower penalty.
“This is serious offending. It was not offending motivated by need. You offended because you could. Your conduct is a gross departure from your obligations as officer in effective control [of the real estate agency].”
It was reported that Amit Miglani’s lawyer told the court the former real estate agent had come from “fairly humble beginnings” to Australia.
However, this was debunked by the prosecutor for Consumer Affairs, James Baker, who clarified in the court that Amit Miglani came to Australia on a student visa as a full-fee-paying student, funded by his parents.
Consumer Affairs Victoria investigated Amit Miglani and his agency following complaints from consumers.
Money lost by Amit Miglani’s clients has been refunded by the Victorian Property Fund.
Director of Consumer Affairs Victoria, Nicole Rich, said:
“The outcome served as a strong reminder that money in an agent’s trust account belongs to other people, not the agent, and Consumer Affairs Victoria will take action against agents who misuse client funds.”
SNM Properties’ corporate estate agent’s licence and Amit Miglani’s individual licence have both been cancelled.
The court has noted that if Amit Miglani breaches the order in the next 18 months by offending further or not completing the work, he can be re-sentenced.