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Tribunal finds ‘systematic dishonesty’ at Sea Consultants and Investments Ltd

Media release
November 2011

An adviser has been struck off after her firm overcharged a client by 400% for a work visa.

Proprietor of Sea Consultants and Investments Limited Jenny Fan negotiated fees of $20,000 – four times the firm’s usual charge of $5,000 and seventeen times the industry median of $1,150.

Complainant Na Jia said her uncle gave his life savings to Sea Consultants so he could work as a chef in New Zealand and support his daughter through university.

The Immigration Advisers Complaints and Disciplinary Tribunal found that the inflated fee was likely to be either an attempt to overcharge a naïve person or for inducing an employer to provide a job.

Staff at the consultancy forged the signature of the firm’s only licensed adviser, Wei Wang, and provided the migrant with a false contract.

The tribunal held Wang responsible and cancelled her licence for failure to:

The tribunal stated:

“Ms Wang’s failure was the result of being hopelessly out of her depth.

“She was not personally a party to the systematic dishonesty which she admits occurred.

“The most concerning aspect of Ms Wang’s conduct was her failure to intervene when she knew the Uncle had been grossly overcharged. However, I am satisfied Ms Wang was influenced and manipulated by persons she regarded as senior and to be respected, and actively deceived.”

The tribunal ordered Ms Wang to pay a penalty of $2,000 and prevented her from reapplying for a full immigration adviser’s licence for two years.

Immigration Advisers Authority Registrar Barry Smedts said there were lessons that could be learned on ethics, accountability and client care.

“It’s very important for advisers to understand whether they are an employee or a director at a consultancy business, they are ultimately responsible for what happens to clients.

“In this case, Wang became aware of overcharging and had an ethical duty to put a stop to it.”

Notes to editor

The Immigration Advisers Authority was set up to promote and protect the interests of people receiving New Zealand immigration advice.

We do this by:

Under the Immigration Advisers Licensing Act 2007 anyone giving immigration advice must have a licence unless they are exempt. Exempt people include lawyers with a current New Zealand practising certificate and Citizens Advice Bureaux staff among others.

The Authority is independent of Immigration New Zealand and cannot give immigration advice or influence a visa application.