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Worldwide Scope to be deregistered

27 May 2013

Worldwide Scope to be deregistered Image

Worldwide Scope Pty Ltd will be deregistered following a VCAT inquiry into the company’s business practices.

The company operated as a Century 21 franchise in Docklands for two years before Consumer Affairs began an investigation into the business and its director Ali Abbas in 2011.  

It was alleged at the time that Mr Abbas received bonds in cash from multiple tenants, however did not lodge the money with the Residential Tenancies Bond Authority.

It was also alleged that rents were paid in cash and were not passed on to landlords.

As a result of the investigation, the Minister for Consumer Affairs froze Mr Abbas’s agency trust account and appointed a manager to run the business.

Consumer Affairs has received numerous claims to the Victorian Property Fund regarding unpaid rental monies and missing residential tenancy bonds.

According to Consumer Affairs lawyer Kathryn Bannon, over $100,000 has already been claimed from the Victorian Property Fund with over $40,000 worth of claims currently being processed.

She said over $20,000 worth of claims relating to missing bonds would be processed following the end of multiple leases.

According to immigration records referred to by Ms Bannon during the VCAT hearings, Mr Abbas has been out of the country since January 2012.

Accordingly, the VCAT inquiry into his role in the trust fund irregularities was withdrawn in March, with right of reinstatement if Mr Abbas returns to the country.

It is understood Mr Abbas is likely to face not only VCAT action but also criminal charges should he return to Australia.

The inquiry into Worldwide Scope Pty Ltd continued despite Mr Abbas’s absence and resulted in an order for the company to be deregistered.

Jay Bisset, who had been identified as Worldwide Scope’s remaining director, after Mr Abbas ceased to be a director in 2011, represented the company at the hearings.

But Mr Bisset said he believed he has been removed as a director of the company in November 2009 and had no knowledge of any wrongdoing of the company.

At a hearing on May 8, Ms Bannon said the director of Consumer Affairs did not wish to proceed with imposing a monetary fine on Mr Bisset.

“The consumer affairs investigation did not find any evidence linking him to being aware of the wrongdoing of the company,” Ms Bannon said.

Presiding VCAT member Elizabeth Wentworth said the evidence before her showed that Mr Bisset had believed at all times that he was no longer a director of the company.

Mr Bisset said he intended to remove himself as a director of the company.

Ms Bannon said Consumer Affairs sought that Worldwide Scope be deregistered and permanently disqualified from holding an estate agent license.

VCAT member Wentworth agreed to this and said the orders would be made and provided in writing to each party.

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