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News / New Zealand real estate agents admits to power of attorney abuse

A real estate agent in New Zealand admitted that he had defrauded an unsuspecting pensioner of NZ$70,000 (about US$ 59,322). He is set to be sentenced next month, but is likely to avoid jail.

Appearing before a Greymouth District Court, Pat William Walker acknowledged that he
had abused the power of attorney he held over Edith Cavill South’s affairs. Walker was then released on bail and another 33 charges related to his misuse of the victim’s bank account were withdrawn by the prosecution, local newspaper The Greymouth Star reports.

According to the investigation, Walker befriended South in Wellington in the late 1990s and, upon the death of her husband, gained her trust and was granted power of attorney over her affairs. In 2007 he ostensibly helped her sell her property in Wellington for NZ$181,000 (about US$153,390), a sum that was deposited in her bank account. He then assisted her in purchasing a property in Reefton, a small town in the West Coast region of the country, for NZ$70,000
(US$59,322).

South moved into her new home and paid for some repair work. However, after three years, she was shocked to discover that she, in fact, had no legal claim to the property as her NZ$70,000 check had been deposited into Walker’s own bank account.

Adding insult to injury, she also learned that Walker transferred NZ$6,000 (about US$5,085) of her money to his brother’s account, and used her checks to buy goods and services from a variety of businesses, as well as to to pay bills and rentals in the name of Scenicland Realty, his real estate company operating out of the Professionals agency in Gremouth.

All in all, Walker is believed to have stolen NZ$171,269 (about US$145,143) from the
pensioner’s account.

In 2011, Walker’s free ride came to an end. He was arrested by the police and given the boot by the Real Estate Agents Authority.

The Professionals, the agency Walker had been associated with, reimbursed South the
NZ$70,000 she had lost, and the Mad Butcher franchise bought her a house in Reefton to live in rent-free for the rest of her life. This did not prove to be long, as South passed away in December 2011, having lived in the property for just five months.

The sentencing is now expected to take place in Wellington, as it is Walker’s place of residence.
Despite the large sums of money that Walker managed to swindle, he is not likely to receive a jail term, Judge Raoul Neave indicated. His sentence will most probably be electronicallymonitored.

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