$215,000 fine, largest ever meted for conducting estate agency work without CEA license

A Singapore company and its sole director were convicted in Court today for conducting unlicensed estate agency work without being licensed by the Council for Estate Agencies (CEA), the council informed today (21 Dec) on its press release.

Franks Property Pte Ltd was fined $115,000. Its sole director, Lim Koon Heng (70), was fined $100,000, in default 32 weeks imprisonment.

This is the largest fine ever meted out by the Court for unlicensed estate agency work, CEA stated.

Both Lim, 70, and his company pleaded guilty to three out nine charges.

The proceeded charges arise from three property transactions involving a total commission of $94,976.64, without being licensed as an estate agent first.

It was heard in the district court, prior to the CEA’s formation, Lim and/or Franks Property held a house agent license issued by the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore.

Franks Property was registered with the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority on April 16, 1993.

After the CEA was established in October 2010, all property agencies and agents were required to be licensed and registered with CEA before they can carry out estate agency work, however Lim and Franks Property did not do so.

Around 2012, Franks Property arranged and negotiated for purchase of a home at 22 Vanda Drive for $8.02 million.

The transaction was realized on June 30, 2013, and Franks Property received a commission of $37,476.64 from the seller’s real estate agency, ERA Realty Network.

And in the beginning of 2013, Peng Kwee Watches and Jewellery, the owner of a shop house unit at 16 Smith Street also asked Franks Property to find a buyer.

A prospective buyer, Vancouver Capital, bought the unit for $7.5 million. Franks Property and Vancouver Capital’s agent, Newsman Realty, were each paid a co-broke commission of $37,500.

Again, sround August 2013, the owners of a 12th-storey unit in Far East Shopping Center also contacted Franks Property. They wished to sell the unit for $1 million and offered to give Franks Property the excess amount as commission.

Lim then found a prospective buyer who bought the property for $1.02 million. Franks Property pocketed the excess of $20,000 as a commission.

In all the three transactions, on the invoices issued for the commission fees Lim had signed as Franks Property’s director.

The court also heard that before CEA’s investigations on Franks Property in 2013, Lim did not even take the real estate salesman course or the relevant examination to be registered as a salesman.

He took the course only in April this year but he did not pass the examination in May.

Lim and Franks Property also faced six other charges each that were taken into consideration for the purpose of sentencing, CEA press release said.

Under the Estate Agents Act both Lim and the company could have been fined up to $75,000, and Lim could also have been jailed for a term not exceeding three years, or both.

In the case of a continuing offence, there may be a further fine not exceeding $7,500 for every day or part thereof during which the offence continues after conviction.

The CEA also advised the public to choose property agents who are licensed and registered with it. The public can verify whether an entity or individual is licensed or registered with the CEA on CEA website.


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