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Immigration adviser ordered to pay $10,500

Media release

12 June 2012

A dishonest immigration adviser was ordered to pay $10,500 after a tribunal found she pocketed clients’ funds without lodging their visa applications.

Alungamonu (Laki) Tangilanu (Monu) told one client her secretary had stolen his money and lied to another by saying her visa applications had been submitted.

In the first case, a Tongan man urgently needed a residence visa. He had hired Tangilanu’s services before for a visitor’s visa and claimed a newspaper advert said she would process residence applications for $600. He also claimed when he approached her, she said the advertised fee no longer applied, the process would cost $2,500 and take three months.

Three months later he was unable to contact her and called Immigration New Zealand (INZ) only to find that his residence application had not been lodged.

Tangilanu said her secretary stole his money and threw away his residence application but that she would return his money in a month’s time and lodge his visa application. She did neither.

A month later Tangilanu said she would not be able to refund the full fee. She said $750 had been paid to INZ even though she hadn’t lodged the application.

In the second case, a Tongan mother gave Tangilanu $3,320 over the course of four years. Initially she paid Tangilanu $2,100 to help her apply for a residence visa. When the application failed, she asked the adviser to resubmit it along with two student visa applications for her children.

Tangilanu claimed all three applications were lodged in November 2010 but a call from the mother to INZ revealed none of the applications had been made.

The Immigration Advisers Complaints and Disciplinary Tribunal found Tangilanu’s actions represented “a serious example of dishonesty.” She had “flagrantly breached” her professional obligations and her failure to meet these obligations was “sustained and intentional”.
The chair added: “Ms Tangilanu has not demonstrated any remorse and identified no mitigating factors.”

Tangilanu voluntarily refunded the mother $1,220 to cover the 2011 applications and was ordered to refund the full $2,500 to her first client. In addition, she was ordered to pay a total of $8,000 in penalties and prevented from reapplying for an immigration adviser’s licence for two years.

Immigration Advisers Authority Registrar, Barry Smedts, described Tangilanu’s behaviour as disgraceful.

“The majority of licensed immigration advisers do a great job for their clients. Sadly there are some that don’t. Tangilanu’s behaviour in these cases is disgraceful and I’m glad they have been brought to our attention.
Anyone who feels they have been adversely affected by an immigration adviser can contact us, even if they are an overstayer.
Unlike Immigration New Zealand, we have no power to deport overstayers and are only interested in bringing people to justice.”

The Authority exists to protect the interests of consumers. On the www.iaa.govt.nz website you can find a licensed immigration adviser by searching an online directory, complain about immigration advisers using an online form or find out how to become a licensed immigration adviser.

For more information email info@iaa.govt.nz or call freephone 0508 422 422 (NZ only).

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.