7 May 2023

Ex-real estate agent Ivan Tasic disqualified for spending trust fund money on gambling

| Albert McKnight

The ACT Civil and Administrative Tribunal has handed down its decision on former real estate agent, Ivan Tasic. Photo: File.

A former real estate agent who withdrew over $77,000 from a trust fund for clients, mostly to spend on online gambling, has been disqualified from obtaining an agent’s licence for two years.

Last September, Ivan Tasic pleaded guilty to and was convicted of a charge of unauthorised dealing with trust money, for which he was fined $1500.

In 2021, he had been a real estate agent and it appeared he was licenced to use the name of a real estate group for his agency, the ACT Civil and Administrative Tribunal’s Senior Member Mark Hyman said.

He met with the founder of the group and told him he had a gambling problem and had used money from his trust account for his own purposes.

Bank records showed Tasic withdrew more than $77,000 in 53 transactions over about six weeks in September to October 2021.

When he was interviewed by Access Canberra staff the next year, he admitted using trust money on his personal debts and for online gambling, but did take responsibility for his actions.

“He explained that he had found ways to repay the funds so that no clients had been disadvantaged, using funds advanced to him by his family,” Senior Member Hyman said.

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The Commissioner for Fair Trading applied to the tribunal, asking for a public reprimand of Tasic and a disqualification from applying for a real estate agent’s licence for two years.

He didn’t oppose the disqualification, but argued against a public reprimand, claiming it was an extreme form of additional punishment.

Senior Member Hyman accepted he had admitted to using money from his trust account other than in accordance with the direction of those for whom he was holding the funds.

He said it seemed it was likely Tasic knew that what he was doing was against the law “but for a period could not bring himself to stop doing it”.

“Clients – both vendors and purchasers – rely entirely on their agents to ensure that funds lodged with them as deposits are held securely pending settlement,” he said.

“In withdrawing funds for his own purposes, without the direction or consent of the parties to the relevant transactions, Mr Tasic jeopardised property transfers that were likely to be vital to the interests of those involved.”

Tasic accepted most of the funds were used on online gambling and Senior Member Hyman said the way the trust money had been withdrawn suggested his struggle with gambling had become severe.

“Only when it got totally out of hand did he do what he should have done at first instance – he told someone what had happened and faced the consequences,” he said.

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He did note Tasic had returned all the withdrawn funds to the trust account by the end of 2021.

“It is indeed fortunate that no settlements were unable to proceed and that Mr Tasic’s actions did not, in the event, have an impact on his clients,” he said.

“Some recognition should go to Mr Tasic for making the effort he did to ensure that no clients were left without recourse; but it should also be recognised that it was his actions that put that outcome at risk in the first place.”

The senior member said “it would surely be odd” if Tasic was not reprimanded at all in his decision.

He ordered Tasic be publicly reprimanded and disqualified him from applying for a real estate agent’s licence for two years.

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