Responding to claims of delayed payments to the unit by developers including the beleaguered Evergrande, Centaline Property claimed its mainland China arm is due a large sum of unpaid commissions and hence cannot pay staff their commissions.
Centaline’s declaration comes as the housing market crisis deepens, the possibility of default rises, and the economy falters, pulling property developers and agents into commission arrears.
The Hong Kong property agency’s mainland arm, Centaline Property Agency (Shenzhen), has not recovered some commission fees as property developers grapple with the debt crisis and liquidity crunch, Centaline said in a statement on Friday.
“The current amount of unpaid commissions from developers and agents is huge and Centaline Property is not in a position to advance them to its employees,” the company said.
It did not give a figure for the unpaid commissions but the Securities Times state news outlet reported on Aug. 21 that commission owed to the Shenzhen subsidiary had reached more than 1 billion yuan ($137.19 million).
The Shenzhen unit has paid fixed salaries up to July, Centaline said, adding that all of units were operating normally and it would not withdraw from the mainland China market.
Centaline said it had set up a team to handle overdue payments and it would prioritise the settlement of corresponding commissions with employees once funds are recovered.
Liu Tianyang, who is leading the team, earlier told the Securities Times that some developers had used housing to offset commissions, but that often resulted in a loss of revenue for the Shenzhen property agency.
He said the company was operating under major pressure and the payment of commissions due to employees would lead to more difficulties for it.