Ottawa's self-dubbed "condo queen" will be off the market for four months after her real estate registration was suspended by industry regulations.
Well-known real estate broker Marnie Bennett’s suspension was coupled with a fine of $165,000 after pleading guilty to six counts of attempting to obstruct a Real Estate Council of Ontario inspector during a 2011 investigation.
That investigation followed allegations that Ms. Bennett hired non-registered individuals to trade in real estate, as well as improperly paying registered real estate professionals.
Under the Real Estate and Business Brokers Act of 2002, anyone conducting real estate in
Ontario must be registered with RECO, and only a brokerage is allowed to pay salespersons and brokers.
Between September and November 2011, the court was told that Ms. Bennett counselled an employee to make false statements to the inspector and provided false documents showing that payments to sales people were loans and not commissions.
Ms. Bennett registered her plea in Ontario’s provincial offences court on Nov. 2. An additional $41,250 victim surcharge fee brings the total fine to $206,250.
"I appreciate the continuing support of my professional team, clients and colleagues in the industry," Ms. Bennett said in a statement emailed to OBJ. "I can assure you that I and our company will continue to offer to all of you the best in professional service and expertise."
She added that the charges are regulatory matters and not criminal offences, and that the victim surcharge fee is legally required to be paid on all provincial offences and does not reflect the existance of a victim.
Ms. Bennett, a marketing consultant at Bennett Property Shop Realty Brokerage, was named the number-one real estate broker worldwide for Keller Williams in 2010, outperforming 80,000 of her peers.