A Western subcommittee of the Real Estate Agents Association of Fiji has been established, with members appointed on July 29. Mohammed Shameem of Asia Pacific International in Martintar, Nadi has been appointed Patron of this committee, consisting of agents from the Western division.
Nizam Ali of Nizamah Real Estate in Ba is on board as Vice-President, while Just In Realty director, Cecil James was appointed Secretary. James noted that they were focused on the grievances and needs of agents in the West.
Luisa O’Connor Waqabaca of 7 & Few Realtors in Lautoka is Assistant Secretary while committee members are Dorine Charan of Dorine Charan & Associates in Ba, Roshni Lata of Country Real Estate and Matai Raisowalu of KREL Homes in Lautoka.
Raine & Horne co-principal, CJ Shergill is President of the committee, as the divisional representative for the West and one of three Vice-Presidents of the national association. As Shergill was abroad, national association President, Vyas Deo Sharma chaired the divisional meeting in Lautoka in his absence. “There are ongoing issues faced by realtors that the Real Estate Agents Board Licensing Board is aware of and for which we are addressing together,” Sharma said.
The Khelvin Realtors CEO added that the national association would convene in Suva on August 5, an event that is expected to draw the participation of agents and representatives from the West, Central and Northern divisions. “We have already sent out soft copies of our Constitution, and this meeting will be an opportunity for members to share their input on that so that we can look at any necessary amendments or points put forth.”
The national association has received a financial provision from the REALB, and is considering the establishment of an office with administrative staff. “We will need a location that is viable and these details will be decided at a later stage. The national association’s upcoming meeting will be attended by 10 executive members and other participants in an observatory capacity.”
Ongoing issues faced by the industry have included the entry of foreign agents conducting real estate business in Fiji without licenses, and making transactions for their clients offshore. The Fiji Financial Intelligence Unit recently had its 2016 Annual Report passed in Parliament, and has also highlighted case studies of property both suspected and confirmed to be proceeds of crime.
Its case study included a local woman who received stolen funds from an Australian company and was convicted of one count of “possession of property suspected of being proceeds of crime”. She was sentenced to eight months’ imprisonment, suspended for two years.
In a separate case highlighted by the FFIU, a senior accountant with the I Taukei Land Trust Board (TLTB) who headed a unit of 6 clerks for the distribution of lease monies to indigenous landowners repeatedly tampered with the TLTB computer system and created numerous, fraudulent TLTB cheques with two other colleagues. They were convicted of five counts of money laundering, and sentenced to 13 years’ imprisonment, with a non-parole period of 12 years.
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