Unregistered builder fined $40,000 and convicted of fraudulent behaviour

Thursday March 31 2016

An unregistered builder who entered into a Major Domestic Building Contract worth $370,000 after providing false insurance details has been fined and convicted in the Dandenong Magistrates' Court.

Mr Alex Varghese faced six allegations and in each instance was found guilty with conviction. He was fined a total of $40,000 and ordered to pay costs of $485.92.

At the hearing on 11 February, Mr Varghese pleaded guilty to carrying out building work without a registration, providing false information to a relevant building surveyor, providing a false certificate of insurance and demanding more than the maximum five per cent deposit.

The court heard that after being engaged to carry out renovations to a family home in Hughesdale, Mr Varghese made changes to the domestic building contract after it had been signed. He also provided false insurance information in relation to his insurance coverage and requested a progress payment of $54,450.00 to purchase building materials – far above the five per cent statutory requirement which would have amounted to $18,500.

In passing sentence, the Magistrate described Mr Varghese's actions as "a serious breach of trust" which constituted behaviour that was "deliberate, conscious and fraudulent and at the higher end of offending".

A Victorian Building Authority (VBA) investigation found serious misconduct issues which came to light when work on the building project stalled and irregularities in the builder's registration status and documentation were discovered. 

"The VBA is pleased with the severity of the penalty in this matter.  It sends a clear message to those who would engage in fraudulent activity and seek to carry out building work without being registered that this behaviour will not be tolerated," said VBA CEO Prue Digby.

Ms Digby urged all consumers to ensure they check the registration status of building and plumbing practitioners prior to appointing a person to undertake a building or plumbing project. This can be done through the Find a Practitioner section of the VBA website.

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