SINGAPORE: A former real estate salesman with PropNex Realty has become the first salesperson in Singapore to be prosecuted by the Council for Estate Agencies (CEA) for moneylending-related offences.
Thirty-eight-year-old Ghazali Mohamed Rasul was charged on Friday with six counts under the Estate Agents Act.
He was a marketing director at PropNex Realty and had worked at the company for ten years.
Ghazali allegedly referred clients to a licensed moneylender and received payments from the moneylender.
Between November 2010 and November 2011, Ghazali is accused of introducing four clients to a licensed moneylender, AM Credit, for loans.
The clients, who had engaged his services to sell their HDB flats, took loans of between S$5,000 and S$7,000.
In return, Ghazali received two payments of S$150 from AM Credit as reward for his involvement in the moneylending transactions.
Ghazali, who turned up in court with his family, said that he wished to apply for legal aid.
But a district judge said Ghazali was not eligible for criminal legal aid as his offence did not fall under the Penal Code.
Ghazali then said that he wished to seek legal counsel.
CEA, in a statement, said that "salespersons engaged by clients with financial needs should not exploit their clients' circumstances and involve themselves with moneylending activities conducted by either licensed or unlicensed moneylenders."
It also advised consumers to report any estate agent or salesperson who works in collusion with a moneylender.
Since October 2010, CEA has debarred ten individuals who were involved in unlicensed moneylending activities from registration as salespersons.
Under the Estate Agents Act, it is an offence for estate agents and salespersons to introduce, refer or recommend or suggest the use of the services of any moneylender to their clients. They are also prohibited from receiving commissions, rewards, fees, payments or any benefits from any moneylender for any moneylending transaction.
Ghazali will be back in court on 9 January.
If convicted, he could be jailed up to a year and fined up to S$25,000 for each charge.
Senior Vice President of PropNex Realty, Mr Lim Yong Hock, said that the company does not condone moneylending-related offences as it puts the clients' interests at risk.
"The client can be put into a position whereby they are being forced to sell. Some moneylenders could handle the debts in a different manner. And the clients could be forced to sell their property at a lower price if they are being forced into a situation to make the payment for their debts," said Mr Lim.
Currently, PropNex Realty has more than 4,000 registered salespersons and each of them is given a handbook detailing the professional code of conduct for the salespersons. One of the guidelines in the handbook clearly states: no referrals to moneylenders.
Martin Koh | 86666 944 | R020968Z
Sherry Tang | 9844 4400 | R020241C
Senior Sales Director
DTZ Debenham Tie Leung (SEA) Pte Ltd (L3006301G)
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