A former immigration adviser in New Zealand has been ordered to pay more than aÂ quarter of a million dollars by a tribunal for â€œcalculatedâ€ and â€œsystematicÂ dishonestyâ€.
Glen William Standing must pay nearly $280,000 in refunds, penalties andÂ compensation â€“ the highest amount demanded from a single person by theÂ Licensed Immigration Advisers Complaints and Disciplinary Tribunal.
The Immigration Advisers Authority confirmed 19 former clients had madeÂ complaints against Glen â€“ the highest number of complaints theÂ Authority had received against a single person.
Two of the 19 complaints were upheld last year and in August 2011 GelnÂ had his licence cancelled for providing incorrect advice.
The remaining 17 complaints were upheld in August this year.
The Tribunal found Glen had tried various ways to persuade clientsÂ to part with excessive fees, including making false claims that:
he provided his services as â€œan immigration law firmâ€
could 100% guarantee the client New Zealand residency and
he could be prosecuted if he didnâ€™t secure the visa.
The Immigration Advisers Authority website shows that in 2011-12 theÂ average fees charged by a licensed immigration adviser for residence visasÂ ranged from $2,790, for those applying under the Family (Partner) category,Â to $3,810 for skilled migrants. Glen charged his 17 clients anÂ average of $7,904.
Liquidators found Glen, the Nelson-based director of Golden Sands MigrationÂ Limited and former director of liquidated immigration consultancy LivingÂ New Zealand Limited had acquired around $635,000 in fees from overseasÂ clients for work that had not been completed.
Authority Registrar of Immigration Advisers Barry Smedts urged consumersÂ to read the Immigration Advice Consumer Guide.
â€œPotential migrants about to spend a large amount of money onÂ a life-changing decision need to read our Consumer Guide before hiringÂ an immigration adviser,” says Barry.
“Here they will find everything they need to know.Â Thereâ€™s even a checklist so they can make sure their adviser is providingÂ them with all the right documents.â€
The Tribunal found Glen â€œpersonally tailored a deceitfulÂ misrepresentation for the individual clientâ€.
The chair said: â€œThe deceit wasÂ not puffery or exaggeration; it was calculated dishonesty for personal gain.
His objective was to solicit fees, with the intention of not delivering theÂ services the clients were promised, and paid for.â€
As a result of Glen’s promises, a Japanese woman resigned from herÂ job, cancelled the tenancy of her apartment in Osaka and started having aÂ house built in New Zealand only to be detained at the border and forced toÂ explain why she was attempting to enter the country.
Another couple spent $100,000 relocating with their family and establishingÂ a business only to discover their ability to remain in the country depended onÂ their business having the potential to trade profitably within 12 months.
A Bangladeshi student was told there was a â€œfree flight offerâ€ and â€œa largeÂ volume of interestâ€ from Christchurch employers for post-earthquakeÂ work. And another man, living in Spain, was told that finding employmentÂ was â€œthe least of his worriesâ€ and that there were 132 vacancies.
Several of Glen’s clients lived in the United Kingdom and met himÂ at organised events.
The Tribunal chair said: â€œIn many, if not all, cases the fees GlenÂ solicited came from clients who could ill afford to lose money they had putÂ aside to pursue a major lifestyle ambition for themselves and their family.”
Glen was censured and prevented from reapplying for a licence forÂ two years.
How to choose an immigration advisor?
The Immigration Advisers Authority was set up in May 2008 to regulate immigrationÂ advice both nationally and internationally.
Under the Immigration Licensing Act 2007 anyone giving immigration advice must haveÂ a licence unless they are exempt. Exempt people include lawyers and those working atÂ Citizensâ€™ Advice Bureaus among others.
For more information, read Immigration Advice Consumer Guide