by Peter Mericka B.A., LL.B
Real Estate Lawyer
Qualified Practising Conveyancer Victoria
Director Lawyers Real Estate Pty Ltd
Last year Scott Goodman, a licensed conveyancer and owner of Goodman Group Conveyancing, launched what he called the Goodman Group Conveyancing Referral Program – a scheme whereby a bribe of $150 is paid to a real estate agent each time a client is referred by that real estate agent to Goodman Group Conveyancing for conveyancing services. Anecdotal evidence suggests that Goodman’s scheme has been a runaway success, but questions arise over the ethics and legality of the scheme. I wrote to a prominent real estate agency to find out how they deal with the bribe payments.
In a previous posting titled “Conveyancing Bribes – A New Growth Industry” I exposed the blatant use of bribery in the conveyancing industry. The issue was also raised in The Australian newspaper (see “Paid referrals distort market in conveyancing“).
I have since been told by licensed conveyancers in different parts of Melbourne that their businesses have suffered because the real estate agents on whom they rely for client referrals are now channelling their referrals to Goodman Group Conveyancing in return for bribes payments. I also became aware that the General Sales Manager of Rosier Real Estate, Mr. David Priest (also a part-time lecturer in real estate practice and ethics), had been sending clients to Goodman Group in return for bribe payments.
In December, 2008 I wrote to the Principal of Rosier Real Estate, Mr. Kurt Gunther:
“Dear Mr. Gunther,
It has been reported to me that Rosier Real Estate accepts bribes from conveyancing business”Goodman Group”, operated by Mr. Scott Goodman.
I understand that these bribes, also known as “referral payments”, are paid to Rosier Real Estate each time Rosier Real Estate refers a client to Goodman Group for conveyancing services. According to the information I have received, your General Sales Manager Mr. David Priest is your office’s contact person for Goodman Group and that he is responsible for channelling the bribes from Goodman Group to Rosier Real Estate…