One of the State’s top rural property agents has been charged after allegedly swindling farmers of more than $6 million from land sales.
Major fraud squad investigators arrested veteran agent Colin King and his son Paul King at their York office yesterday after a complex investigation into back-to-back sales of farms from Perth’s southern outskirts to north of Geraldton.
Detectives later arrested another of Colin King’s sons, alleged scheme middleman Michael King, at his luxury South Perth home.
Michael King is a property investment promoter whose companies allegedly made big profits buying land from WA farmers then on-selling it to Asian investors.
Operating under the codename Overflow, fraud squad detectives have spent more than a year investigating Michael King and associates over dealings involving property and fertiliser.
Detectives raided Colin King’s York office and the offices of Professional Settlement Services in April to gather evidence about suspected schemes targeting cash-strapped farmers.
The alleged victims sold their properties for below the price that Malaysian investors identified were willing to pay.
In one alleged case, a drought-stricken Greenough farmer sold his property for $1.25 million to a Michael King company in 2008 after signing on to have Colin King Real Estate be a conjunctional agent in the sale.
At the same time, the property was allegedly offered to Malaysian investors for $1.85 million.
Police claim an illegitimate profit of almost $640,000 was made on the deal and Colin King Real Estate received sales commission of $37,500.
Police claim the farmer would not have accepted the $1.25 million purchase price if he had known a $1.85 million offer was available.
It would be alleged the true offers from international investors were not provided to the sellers, police said.
Baldivis sheep farmer Franck Teissier said he was angry after learning that some farm land he had sold for $3.25 million in 2009 was on-sold shortly after for more than $5 million.
“It has been four years of stress and strain,” he said.
Mr Teissier’s property was marketed by two other real estate agents and Colin King allegedly approached one of the agents, saying he had a potential buyer and asked to enter a joint sales arrangement.
Colin King told _The West Australian _earlier this year he had acted properly in his dealings with Mr Teissier. He could not be contacted yesterday.
The men were released on bail to appear in Perth Magistrate’s Court on October 31.