Sam Rakhra won't give up Conservative campaign despite Internet controversy

Several federal candidates have dropped out of this election campaign after Internet searches disclosed embarrassing incidents from their past. However, one politician whose professional indiscretions have been revealed on the Internet is continuing with his campaign.

Real-estate agent Sam Rakhra, the Conservative standard-bearer in Burnaby–New Westminster, has been disciplined three times by the Real Estate Council of British Columbia. His campaign spokesperson, Robin Dhir, told the Georgia Straight in a phone interview that Rakhra disclosed these incidents to the Conservative party before he obtained the nomination.

The story made the news for a day while Conservative Leader Stephen Harper was visiting Metro Vancouver. Dhir said he was “somewhat baffled” that the story attracted any attention. “We were kind of confused why this had become an issue with anyone because anyone can Google a name and the things would pop up,” Dhir said.

Last December, as managing broker of Tapestry Realty, Rakhra “failed to be actively engaged in the management of the related brokerage and failed to ensure that the business of the brokerage was carried out competently and in accordance with the [Real Estate Services] Act, regulations, rules and bylaws”, according to a consent order on the council’s Web page. Rakhra was suspended for 180 days for professional misconduct and ordered to complete several education assignments.

In 2005, the council ordered Rakhra to pay enforcement expenses of $3,800 after being reprimanded for failing to “be in active charge of five real estate transactions handled by a licensee of Royal Group Tapestry”.

The council determined that Rakhra “failed to properly document the deficiencies in the exclusive listing contracts and Contracts and Purchase and Sale so that these deficiencies could be brought to the licensee’s attention in writing”.

In a 2004 decision, the council determined that Rakhra contravened the Real Estate Act by permitting commissions to be withdrawn from a trust account of an agent “three days prior to the complete date without an express agreement in writing by the parties”. Rakhra and Royal Group Tapestry Realty were jointly and severally liable for $5,028.95 in costs.

“I guess the saddest part of it all was that it wasn’t him who had issues, but as managing broker”¦the supervisor wears it,” Dhir said.

Rakhra’s name also popped up as a third party in a 2002 B.C. Supreme Court decision, which held him liable for negligence in a real-estate transaction. It concerned a dispute over a DJ system between Sikhvir Athwal and the vendor of a restaurant, Faqir Mohammed, as well as the buyers of the restaurant: Bhagat Singh Sidhu, Karanvir Sidhu, and Arvinder Sidhu.

Rakhra was the listing agent for Mohammed. The dispute revolved around whether or not a DJ system in the restaurant was included in the $1.33-million sale of the property in 1998. According to a decision written by Justice Paul Williamson, the sale included all electrical fixtures and attachments but excluded a TV screen and projector.

Athwal claimed that a previous owner of the restaurant gave him ownership of the DJ system even if the premises were sold. So when the Sidhus claimed they owned everything but the TV screen and projector, Athwal sued them and Mohammed.

“The defendants say that the agent [Rakhra] who drew up the contract of purchase and sale misrepresented the true ownership of the DJ system by excluding only the projector and the screen, but not mentioning the remaining portion of the system,” Williamson wrote. He also noted in his ruling that Rakhra had a “duty of care”¦to draw the contract in accord with what the agent knew to be the facts”.

“Nevertheless, the documents were drawn in a way that misled the defendants about what was excluded and what was included in the sale,” Williamson added. “In the circumstances, the real estate agent [Rakhra] was negligent in the manner that he drew that contract of purchase and sale.”

Williamson ruled that the defendants should therefore receive $6,000 from the third parties—Rakhra, Mohammed, and a numbered company—because they “were responsible for the failure to set out the true state of affairs in the contract of purchase and sale”. -