Probe into Belle closure

NSW Fair Trading is investigating the circumstances that led to the closure two weeks ago of the Belle Property office at Byron Bay.
Belle Property Australasia chief executive Peter Hanscomb, who confirmed the franchise agreement with the agency’s operator, Sarah Dougan, had been terminated, said the company was co-operating fully with the department’s inquiries.
Mr Hanscomb said the department had been contacted after an internal audit had revealed a number of alleged discrepancies related to sales and rentals.
He said the audit had been undertaken after a complaint was made about a recent sale settlement.
Mr Hanscomb said he was deeply disappointed that Belle Property’s “excellent reputation” had been tarnished.
“Belle Property has an excellent reputation for outstanding results and service and we are very careful in our selection process when recruiting new agents and franchisees,” he said.
“I want to assure the Byron Bay community that we are taking this situation very seriously.”
He said the office would reopen under new ownership as soon as possible.
He said the town was a very important market in the company’s long-term growth strategy and it was determined to rebuild its reputation in the local community.
It is believed about eight people, including four sales staff, were employed in the office.

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