Disgraced former Illawarra real estate agent Hakan Kutup claims his business was experiencing significant financial trouble when he nicked almost $500,000 while working as the director of Century 21 Ultimate Wollongong.
The 54-year-old admitted creating dozens of false documents claiming to represent the successful sale of 12 homes throughout the Illawarra between late 2017 and early 2018.
He then submitted the fake documents to a company called Paidonexchange Pty Ltd, which, for a fee, provides real estate agents with immediate payment of their commissions from housing sales, without the ordinary 12-week wait for settlement.
Kutup admitted using photo-shopped emails and letterheads purporting to be from local solicitors and conveyancers verifying each of the sales, as well as fabricated contracts of sales, agency agreement documents and false bank deposits to further support the scam.
On each occasion Kutup submitted a claim, Paidonexchange immediately deposited the payment into the Century 21 Wollongong bank account, after deducting its own commission.
In total, Kutup was given $263,755 in commission payments he was never entitled to receive.
Then there was a downturn in the industry but he still had financial commitments. He had used Paidonexchange since 2015 and when things got bad towards the end of 2017, that when he took to falsifying documents.
He also admitted failing to return or pay money owed to two homeowners stemming from property sales at Horlsey, Tullimbar and Port Kembla, and when arrested September 2019, made further admissions to misappropriating a further $125,200 from his latest company's trust accounts.
Kutup's total financial gain from his acts of deception amounted to approximately $480,000.
Facing a sentencing hearing in Wollongong Local Court on Thursday, Kutup claimed almost all the money he had misappropriated had gone to "keeping the business afloat".
"Significant factors happened in his business at the time," defence lawyer Graeme Morrison said.
"He split from his business parter in 2014 and had to pay him out.
"Then there was a downturn in the industry but he still had financial commitments. He had used Paidonexchange since 2015 and when things got bad towards the end of 2017, that when he took to falsifying documents.
"Most of the money was used to keep the business afloat but there was also gambling involved."
Mr Morrison said Kutup's fall from grace had been "quite dramatic".
"He's been shunned by people who knew him.....his reputation is gone," he said.
Mr Morrison suggested Kutup had goods prospects of rehabilitation and was unlikely to reoffend, saying "I don't think he'll ever be in a position of trust again".
He urged Magistrate Mark Douglass to spare Kutup a full-time jail sentence.
"It's a situation where, at the age of 54, he'd find it extremely difficult to get back on his feet after a period of incarceration," he said.
Magistrate Douglass adjourned the matter to July 13 to consider the appropriate sentence, as well as resolve issues around the amount of compensation he could order Kutup to repay.
Kutup has pleaded guilty to five counts of making a false document to obtain a financial advantage, five counts of publishing false or misleading material to obtain an advantage and one count of larceny.