The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) has today published paperwork claiming that Countrywide’s transfer of unclaimed client funds into a company account was “not a product of deceit”.
The controversial transfer was uncovered during a routine inspection by the RICS. The published report confirms that Countrywide was “transparent in its actions”, following the findings.
RICS said: “The decision to retain these funds was a policy decision made at a senior management level by personnel employed at the time by the Firm and was not the product of deceit.”
It added: “The firm returned the sum in full, and there are no reports of individual clients suffering financial loss.”
The reported findings also revealed Countrywide’s own efforts to investigate the issue. Paul Creffield, group managing director of Countrywide PLC, said: “After an internal review, I put an immediate stop to the practice.
“The funds in question arose where the source of original payment could not be traced, or the funds could not be allocated to a specific client’s account and so could not be returned.”
Countrywide is the largest residential property services group in the UK, employing over 10,000 employees across the nation.
Cleffield added: “Our presence in local communities and the brands are very important to us. Their reputation is paramount. That is why we fully embrace regulation in the sales and lettings field.
“It is no exaggeration that serious damage to the public reputation of the Countrywide name could have catastrophic commercial consequences for the group and for all of our investors, including shareholders and pension funds.”