One of the two former LJ Hooker real estate agents charged over the disappearance of more than $2 million of customers’ money could face more than 100 fresh charges, a Melbourne court has heard.
Truc Thanh Le Nguyen, known as Judy Nguyen, and her husband Tri Duc Ngo, known as Joseph Ngo, face hundreds of charges relating to alleged breaches of the Estate Agents Act.
Charge sheets reveal the couple have been charged with allegedly transferring money from the real estate business’s rental trust account as well as deposits paid to it by home buyers. The offences allegedly occurred between February 2015 and March 2016.
The court heard that the Office of Public Prosecutions was considering whether to charge Ngo with 114 additional offences of breaching his duty as a real estate agent.
Nguyen was the owner of six LJ Hooker branches in Melbourne’s east but, as the ABC revealed in April last year, her franchise agreement with LJ Hooker was torn up amid allegations she had spent home deposits that were supposed to be held in trust for her clients.
More than 100 former customers of the couple claimed their deposits had disappeared.
Last week Consumer Affairs Victoria announced that Nguyen had been charged with 216 offences and Ngo with 188 offences for alleged breaches of the Estate Agents Act.
In a statement to the ABC last week, a spokesperson for LJ Hooker said the company was pleased that the matter had proceeded to court.
The Director of Consumer Affairs has approved 58 claims from out of pocket customers who collectively lost more than $2 million in missing deposits.
“These sorts of occurrences are a blight on the industry, and continued vigilance is of the utmost importance to LJ Hooker and our franchisees,” the spokesperson said.
If found guilty, Nguyen and Ngo could face a maximum penalty of 10 years in jail. The case returns to the Melbourne Magistrates Court on March 20.