Eastbourne agent struck off for dishonest conduct

Mike Reid SUS-170809-085216001
Mike Reid SUS-170809-085216001

An estate and lettings agency and chartered surveyors in Eastbourne – along with its sole principal – has been reprimanded after more than £25,000 was taken from clients’ accounts and repaid at a later date.

In addition, Mike Reid at Reid & Dean has been expelled from the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors for what a disciplinary panel described as his ‘dishonest conduct’.

The money has since been repaid by Mr Reid.

The details were revealed after the panel published its findings against Mr Reid and Eastbourne Surveyors Limited, trading as Reid & Dean, after a hearing in June.

The panel said Eastbourne Surveyors Ltd failed to preserve the security of client money entrusted to its care in the course of its business because the adequacy of its accountancy systems and controls were not sufficiently robust to preserve the security of client money.

It also said that between October 2013 and May 2016 Mr Reid took more than £25,000 from the client account operated by the firm without the consent of the clients.

The irregularities came to light during an regulatory review by an RICS accountant in May 2016.

Mr Reid admitted the allegations before the panel and said he used the money to keep the firm afloat when his business partner fell seriously ill.

The money has since been repaid by Mr Reid.

He told the Herald, “This is a disastrous outcome to a situation where I supported firstly one of my staff who was badly injured and away from work for several months and then my deceased business partner through nearly four years of her illness.

“The business coped financially for nearly three years before it became too onerous.”

The public should be aware that the last of the money borrowed was replaced in June 2016 and that at no time have any of our property management landlords, tenants or contractors been unpaid. Our systems were also reviewed last year and operate fully to RICS standards.”

Mr Reid, who the panel heard was hoping to sell the business, has been expelled from the RICS and he and the firm were ordered to pay £5,000 costs

The panel considered mitigating factors including the firm had cooperated with RICS from the outset; the findings of the report had been treated very seriously and had been rectified (at some expense) so that the firm was now compliant with the rules; there had been no loss to clients; the firm had started to replace some of the monies before the RICS Regulatory Review Visit; and there had been no previous findings against the firm

The panel also considered the following mitigating factors that Mr Reid had shown considerable candour and insight in his admissions and evidence to the

panel; accepted that his behaviour was born of difficult personal and professional circumstances at the relevant time; and he had not intended to deprive clients of their monies permanently and meant only to use the monies to maintain the firm as a going concern (though clearly he had resort to client

account as a source of funds when other means of funding the firm were closed to him).