Vancouver realtor charged with theft, fraud

Wednesday, May 31st, 2006

Criminal allegations await man last contacted in Mexico

Derrick Penner

The Vancouver realtor sanctioned by real estate regulators for misappropriating the $45,000-deposit of a client last year now faces criminal charges of theft and fraud.

Ken Fraser, executive-director of investigations for the B.C. Financial Institutions Commission, said Tuesday the commission laid charges of theft, fraud and forgery against Smrat (Sam) Sharma in relation to the case.

If convicted, the maximum penalty under the theft and forgery charges is 10 years in jail. The maximum penalty for fraud is 14 years in prison.

Fraser added that a warrant has been issued for Sharma’s arrest. The authorities believe he is out of the country.

Sharma contacted The Vancouver Sun last week and said he was in Mexico. He could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

“The warrant will remain outstanding until such time as [Sharma] returns to Canada,” Fraser added.

Last week, the Real Estate Council of B.C. cancelled Sharma’s real estate licence for a minimum of five years and slapped him with $15,000 in fines and enforcement costs, the stiffest penalty it has handed out since being granted stronger enforcement powers in 2005.

The Real Estate Council sanctioned Sharma for a long list of infractions between 2003 and 2005. The most serious was misappropriating the $45,000 deposit of a client by directing him to pay it directly to a company that Sharma owned, and not to his brokerage’s trust account, in a sale last March.

In its enforcement order, the Real Estate Council said Sharma also signed an addition to the contract in the seller’s name without the seller’s knowledge.

The client was left scrambling to raise money to cover the deposit at the last minute when he learned the deposit hadn’t been paid.

© The Vancouver Sun 2006


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