Christchurch real estate agent admits taking $150k for houses she didn't sell

Shirley Johnston pleaded guilty to fraudulently obtaining 13 commissions from the council for work she did not do.
Shirley Johnston pleaded guilty to fraudulently obtaining 13 commissions from the council for work she did not do. Photo credit: Harcourts

A Christchurch real estate agent has admitted a $150,000 fraud on land sales for a Selwyn District Council project.

Phoenix Harcourts agent Shirley Johnston pleaded guilty to fraudulently obtaining 13 commissions from the council for work she did not do.

The Serious Fraud Office (SFO) brought the charges against Johnston, who claimed to have completed the work between March 2007 and July 2015.

Nearly $150,000 of the payments were transferred into a bank account controlled by her and her husband and business partner, Stephen Gubb.

Gubb is currently serving a jail sentence of two years and nine months for his part in the fraudulent scheme, as well as a separate offence of submitting a false invoice to the Selwyn District Council. 

He was previously prosecuted by the SFO on fraud charges involving about $1.18 million after being convicted and sentenced to four years in prison in December 2003. 

Johnston received the commissions on land sales as a Phoenix Harcourts agent in Christchurch, but she was not the real estate agent for these property sales at a council business park development in Rolleston.

Gubb, who was a property consultant at the business park, instructed Buddle Findlay to pay $300,829 in commissions to Phoenix Harcourts, who then paid Johnston $149,094 for her purported work.

She has been remanded on bail until sentencing on September 20.

Newshub.