Agent’s clients get $2m pay­out

Sunday Herald Sun - - News - SCOTT CARBINES

MORE than $2 mil­lion worth of claims have been ticked off in con­nec­tion with the col­lapse of six LJ Hooker of­fices in Melbourne’s east last April. Fig­ures ob­tained by the

Sun­day Her­ald Sun show 57 re­quests were ap­proved through the Vic­to­rian Prop­erty Fund last year over miss­ing home de­posits, rent and mar­ket­ing costs.

Eight were from ven­dors for sales de­posits, 48 from land­lords for ren­tal money and one was from a ven­dor who lost money paid for mar­ket­ing.

Con­sumer Af­fairs Vic­to­ria has also au­tho­rised the pay­ment of out­stand­ing rent to­talling more than $34,000 to 21 claimants from the bal­ance of the es­tate agent’s ren­tal trust ac­count.

Over­all, more than 80 claims have been lodged with CAV af­ter mil­lions of dol­lars went miss­ing from trust ac­counts man­aged by of­fices of for­mer LJ Hooker fran­chisee Judy Thanh Truc.

Ms Truc orig­i­nally blamed hack­ers and then her hus­band Joseph Ngo — whom she said she had sep­a­rated from.

The of­fices in Box Hill, Keys­bor­ough, Don­caster, Glen Waver­ley, Mount Waver­ley and Bur­wood were shut down and taken over by CAV on April 21 last year.

Vic­tim Jan Melih, 74, said he and wife Kata­rina had been able to move on af­ter re­ceiv­ing their miss­ing $61,000 buy­ers’ de­posit through the VPF.

“Of course, I am happy, be­cause I can go on with my life,” he said. “I’m not sure what Con­sumer Af­fairs is go­ing to do about it. Those peo­ple have bro­ken the law but I have no idea what’s go­ing on.

“As far as I’m con­cerned I think if you break the law you should pay the price.”

The CAV said the re­main­ing claims were be­ing worked through.

A spokes­woman for LJ Hooker said the brand had beefed up its com­pli­ance pro­cesses and sys­tems.

“Since the clo­sure of Glen Waver­ley and as­so­ci­ated of­fices, LJ Hooker has rolled out an in­ten­si­fied train­ing pro­gram re­gard­ing trust ac­count management in a move to fur­ther im­prove its own and in­dus­try stan­dards,” she said.

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