THE former boss of a top estate agent is set to return to his old job after being cleared of fraud charges. Paul Varty, 38, walked free last week after a 13-day trial in the District Court. The Englishman is expected to once again take up the post of managing director at Chesterton Petty's Hongkong office. Most Hongkong property industry insiders are remaining tight-lipped, but one prominent businessman, who asked not to be named, said: ''Paul is returning to the company to be managing director again. He is looking forward to it.'' Mr Varty was unavailable for comment. Acting managing director, Mr George Doran, said: ''We are, of course, delighted that Paul has been cleared of this. ''It has been a big worry to us over the last 15 months. Now, we must, together with Paul, get on with business. ''Over the next week or two, we will be addressing issues that have been put on ice.'' Sources inside the property firm claimed business had been affected in recent months. One said: ''Some of the other companies used it [the trial] as a chance to put the knife in, but the damage has been minimal. ''We're just glad it is over and now we can get on with things.'' Mr Varty was accused of conspiring with the former vice-president of the Bank of America, David Lee Chai-ve, to defraud the bank by dishonestly arranging for it to pay $721,250 to Chesterton Petty. The money was purported to be estate agency fees owed to the property firm. Mr Varty was found not guilty on the two charges of conspiracy to defraud and one count of false accounting. Lee was sentenced to 21/2 years' imprisonment last year. He had pleaded guilty to five charges, including conspiring to dishonestly pay Chesterton Petty. A spokesman for the Legal Department said there would be no appeal against Mr Varty's acquittal. Industry watchers generally believe the case will have no implications for the property sector as a whole. One analyst said: ''This case was a private one concerning an individual and is not significant to one of Hongkong's most important industries.'' Michael Greene, of S. G. Warburg Securities, said: ''In my opinion Paul Varty is one of the most respected people in the real estate business in Hongkong. ''I don't think for a minute that the general real estate fraternity ever doubted his innocence. ''It was just one of those things that there was probably an administrative oversight which implicated him and he, unfortunately, got caught up in legal proceedings which followed.'' Mr Varty was the Hongkong Society of Real Estate Agents' first president. and is a past chairman of the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (HK).