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Bank Theft Case Upsets Mortgage Brokers

FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 23, 2001

The case of a Levin bank employee who stole $54,000 from her customers highlights the need for borrowers to check on the reputation of people they deal with, says New Zealand Mortgage Brokers Association president Rob Tucker.

The woman, sentenced this week to 15 months jail, was an employee of Westpac Trust in Levin at the time of the offence.

Mr Tucker said he was concerned the woman apparently described her occupation as a mortgage broker when she appeared in court. The description referred to her work for an Otaki law firm after her dismissal by the bank.

At no time had the woman been a member of the Mortgage Brokers Association.

³We have very strict background and reference checks on those applying for membership.²

³Prospective members must prove they have relevant experience, an acceptable personal record and no ratified public objection to their membership. They must be approved by at least six major lending institututions, have mortgage broking as their principal activity, offer a full range of product types and options, and have at least $1 million in professional indemnity insurance. They must also complete and pass an accreditation programme.

³Then members can display the NZMBA logo.²

Mr Tucker said it was unlikely the woman would have qualified for membership, had she applied.

The case, and the woman¹s description of herself as a mortgage broker, had unfairly tarnished genuine professionals working to maintain the industry¹s reputation and standards, he said.

The association had a code of ethics, and complaints and disciplinary procedures established to safeguard consumers¹ interests and provide an avenue for redress. If prospective borrowers were unsure whether a broker was a member of NZMBA, they could contact the association on 0-9-486 5456 and ask for confirmation or check the association¹s web-site http://www.nzmba.co.nz

ENDS


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