The censure of a high-profiled Realtor is offering a cautionary note to agents and brokers working with "stringer agents" and operating outside the auspices of a brokerage.
A well-known real estate broker who calls herself the Condo Queen had was fined $206,250 and had her license suspended for four months after pleading guilty to obstructing an investigation on her alleged use of unlicensed realtors and improperly paid registered real estate agents without using a brokerage.
Marnie Bennett, owner of Bennett Property Shop in Ottawa and a radio personality and newspaper columnist, pleaded guilty to six counts of attempting to obstruct a Real Estate Council of Ontario 2011 investigation, but argued her offenses were not criminal in nature.
Under Ontario law, anyone trading in real estate has to be registered with RECO and only a brokerage is allowed to pay salespeople and brokers. Brokerages use a deposit protection insurance to protect a client’s money.
“On November 2, 2011, I pleaded guilty to six charges under the Real Estate and Business Brokers Act, 2002,” she said in a statement yesterday. “I take full personal responsibility for the conduct that led to these pleas… however I wish to make clear that these are regulatory matters and not criminal offenses.”
The provincial court heard that between September and November 2011, Bennett advised an employee to make false statements to an inspector and tried to provide documents purporting payments to her salespeople were loans rather than commissions.