Blog: High Court confirms PSRA financial sanction of Wexford estate agent – Law Society of Ireland Gazette

High Court President Ms Justice Mary Irvine yesterday confirmed the Property Services Regulatory Authority (PSRA) decision to impose a €145,000 fine on former Wexford estate agents.

The financial penalty was made on former licensees Michael O’Leary & Associates Limited (trading as Property Team MA O’Leary Auctioneers) of 103 South Main Street, Wexford, and employee Sinead O’Leary.

This sanction follows, and is in addition to, a previous sanction confirmed by the High Court on 25 August 2021, which saw the authority revoke the licence of the same estate agents, permanently prohibit them from applying for a PSRA property-service licence, and imposed nearly €200,000 in financial penalties.

In yesterday’s High Court appearance, the court heard that, during the investigation of the previous complaint, which led to the High Court confirmation of August 2021, the PSRA became concerned about the licensee’s management of another owners management company (OMC), and accordingly commenced a separate investigation of its own volition against licensees Sinead O’Leary and Property Team MA O’Leary Auctioneers.

Following its investigation, the PSRA found that  Sinead O’Leary, who was an administrator of the OMC’s online bank account, had transferred €79,041.54 from the OMC’s account to an account jointly owned by O’Leary and her husband, without the knowledge or permission of that OMC.

Failure

A further serious finding was made against the licensees in regard to their failure to put in place insurance cover for the OMC.

As both former licensees had already had their licences revoked, and had been permanently prohibited from applying for a licence in the future, the authority imposed the following financial sanctions on O’Leary:

  • A direction to pay €50,000 into the PSRA compensation fund,
  • A direction to pay €5,000 to the PSRA, to cover investigation costs,
  • A direction to pay €30,000 by way of a financial penalty for misappropriating monies from the OMC.

Michael A O’Leary & Associates Limited (trading as Property Team MA O’Leary Auctioneers) had the following sanctions imposed:

  • A direction to pay €30,000 into the PSRA compensation fund,
  • A direction to pay €5,000 to the PSRA, to cover investigation costs,
  • A direction to pay €25,000 by way of a financial penalty for misappropriating monies from the OMC.

Welcoming the sanction confirmation, PSRA Chief Executive Maeve Hogan said that “regulation of the property sector has been effective today, which has seen additional sanctions imposed on former licensees who engaged in fraudulent behaviour.”

Hogan added that regulation had worked in protecting the consumer, and highlighted the regulator’s zero tolerance for any fraudulent actions by licensees against their clients or members of the public.

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