Securities commission says ex-broker committed fraud, bans him from practising in Manitoba

A Manitoba Security Commission panel has banned a former real estate broker from ever practising in the province, after he took thousands of dollars from potential tenants in 2018, spent the money on personal expenses, then blackmailed them to deter them from further pursuing refunds as he moved to Portugal.

Jose Antonio Pereira — also known as Joe Pereira — was accused of failing to obtain a listing agreement prior to advertising a commercial property, committing two fraudulent acts under the Real Estate Brokers Act (REBA), not handing over money from deposits to his real estate company, and conducting himself contrary to the public interest, according to the MSC decision dated Jan. 19, 2021.

“This panel finds Mr. Pereira has committed fraudulent acts as defined in REBA and has failed to meet concerns of this panel in protecting the public interest,” says the decision made by MSC panelists J.T. McJannet, A.E. Martens and C.D. Burns.

As a result, Pereira is permanently barred from registering under the REBA in any way, and was ordered to pay a sum of $7,400 by Feb. 15.

The Manitoba Real Estate Association, which represents over 2,100 real estate professionals, was also ordered to pay $1,500 each to the two potential tenants, the decision says.

In March or April 2018, Pereira, a broker for Re/Max Associates at the time, was looking for tenants to fill a client’s commercial building at the corner of Munroe Avenue and Panet Road in Winnipeg.

A listing agreement — a written or oral agreement authorizing a person, for a reward or promise thereof, to negotiate a sale, lease or “other disposition” of real estate, according to REBA — was never signed for the property.

But two potential tenants met with Pereira and signed an offer-to-lease document. Each paid deposits of $1,500, which were supposed to be refundable, according to Tuesday’s decision.

According to the statement of allegation, both prospective tenants were asked to e-transfer the money to Pereira’s personal email address. The money — $3,000 plus taxes, in total — was deposited into his personal Cambrian Credit Union bank account.

Bank records later showed that Pereira spent the deposit money on “personal expenses,” says the statement of allegation.

In March 2019, the potential tenants learned the commercial building was no longer for rent with Pereira as the agent, so they asked for a refund.

Pereira replied, saying the lease deal was unconditional, that the deposit money went to his work rendered and is non-refundable. He then stated he no longer worked for Re/Max Associates, that the company did not receive the deposit and he used it for expenses, the statement of allegation says.

Pereira said he was returning to Portugal, and that he had “compromising videos” of both potential tenants to prevent them from pursuing refunds on their deposits, Tuesday’s decision says.

Pereira has discipline history with MSC

Pereira has a history of being disciplined by the MSC, dating back to 2001.

The commission suspended Pereira’s salesman registration under REBA for 15 months and barred him from registering as a real estate broker for five years, each period starting June 22, 2001, after using false gift letters to obtain, or try to obtain, mortgage financing in real estate transactions.

Pereira also had to pay a sum of $20,000 to the MSC, in minimum instalments of $5,000 per year.

In September 2018, the securities commission prohibited Pereira from acting as a real estate broker for three years, after failing to return a deposit of $20,000 to a woman and her husband — a sum which Pereira said he thought was a loan, leading him to deposit it into his personal bank account.

In levying their decision this week, the MSC panel members considered Pereira’s past conduct and sanctions, his “complete failure, indeed his outright refusal,” to follow the law, and his intentional misrepresentation, forgery and fraud.

The panel “concluded that it is clearly in the public interest that Mr. Pereira should not be permitted to hold any licence under REBA,” the decision says.