- Amit Miglani pleaded guilty to using almost $100K in trust funds in a fraudulent manner
- Funds were spent on luxury cars and tuition fees at an elite Kew school
- Both the agent's corporate license and that of Mr Miglani have been revoked
A Melbourne real estate agent has avoided jail time after pleading guilty to removing $100,000 of client money from his agency’s trust account, which was then used to splurge on luxury cars and private school fees.
Through his lawyer, Amit Miglani of MIG Real Estate admitted to withdrawing $55,500 from the trust and converting another $42,648.98 into his own personal funds from the trust between 2017 and 2018.
Reports said he spent the funds on a BMW and an Audi at Zagame Automotives while also paying school fees at Xavier College in Kew – one of Melbourne’s elite schools.
Money lost by clients of Mr Miglani has since been refunded by the Victorian Property Fund.
Mr Miglani has been ordered to undergo a Community Corrections Order for 18 months with the special condition of performing 300 hours of unpaid community work.
Magistrate Tara Hartnett said she would have sent him to jail but for his guilty plea.
“It is serious offending … it was not offending motivated by need. You offended because you could.”
Magistrate Tara Hartnett
SNM Properties, trading as MIG Real Estate, held three trust accounts for rental properties and one for property sales, which Mr Miglani was in charge of.
Following complaints, Consumer Affairs Victoria inspected the agency’s trust account records on 4 and 5 September 2018, whereby inspectors found significant discrepancies.
Despite the freezing of the accounts, it came to the inspector’s attention that new accounts had been opened. The agency was then forced to cease trading with the new accounts also frozen.
The agency’s licence was revoked on 3 November 2018 while Mr Miglani’s licence was cancelled effective 15 September 2019.
Consumer Affairs Victoria prosecutor James Baker said in court that Mr Miglani was in a position of trust due to his access to customers funds and noted they had suffered “financial hardship and emotional stress.”
Mr Miglani’s defence lawyer Theo Alexander said while his client accepts responsibility, he argued he should face a fine without a conviction, noting his humble beginnings, and difficulties in his personal life.
Dr Alexander also added that Mr Miglani had been unable to work and had high blood pressure, but he had “found some inner solace” by practising vegetarianism, finding spirituality and engaging in a mental health plan.
The maximum penalty for fraudulently converting real estate-related trust money to one’s own use is 10 years in jail or 500 penalty units – $82,610.
Consumer Affairs Victoria noted that 117 infringement notices totalling over $120,000 and official warnings were made to estate agents who had not lodged trust account audit reports during last year.