Nicolette van Wijngaarden was the company director of Unique Estates.
Nicolette van Wijngaarden was the company director of Unique Estates. Contributed

Disgraced real estate agent 'horribly sad and sorry'

A FORMER luxury real estate agent who admitted misusing more than $1 million worth of trust money is "horribly sad and sorry" for her actions, a court has heard.

Nicolette van Wijngaarden, 45, earlier this year pleaded guilty to two charges relating to the fraudulent misuse of various clients' money from her time running high-end real estate agency Unique Estates, which was based in Byron Bay, Sydney and Melbourne.

The charges reportedly relate to misusing more than $1 million in rent money and misusing funds from the sale of a property on the NSW North Coast.

At a sentencing hearing on Friday in the NSW District Court, Van Wijngaarden said her actions resulted from a lack of cashflow at the business and seasonality in trade, especially in the North Coast real estate market.

"I tried so hard to get the business to a point where it wasn't cashflow strapped constantly, I felt huge responsibility to all my staff and clients," she told the court.

"I tried everything I could and I was literally working 20 hours per day to get the money to fix the problem."

She described herself as "completely devastated" and said she turned herself into NSW Fair Trading because she "felt really strongly about owning my actions".

"I'm horribly and disgracefully sad and sorry," she said.

The charges carry a maximum penalty of 10 years' imprisonment.

Van Wijngaarden will be sentenced on November 22.



Truck, car and caravan collide in highway crash

premium_icon Truck, car and caravan collide in highway crash

A vehicle is believed to have rolled down an embankment

Fires continue to burn across region

premium_icon Fires continue to burn across region

Firefighters are still working to control bushfires