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Home detention and reparation order for unlicensed immigration adviser

Media release

08 February 2013

A woman who took cash from people and falsely promised them jobs was sentenced today to 10 months home detention and ordered to pay $70,630 reparation to 16 victims.

Uluata Ekuale (also known as Ata Utai among several other names) pleaded guilty to charges of supplying false information to an immigration officer, obtaining by deception and providing immigration advice without a licence.  The arrest of Ekuale followed a lengthy investigation into her activities.

Immigration New Zealand’s acting Fraud and Compliance Manager Dean Blakemore says the sentence imposed on Ekuale reflects the seriousness of her offending and the impact of that offending on those who trusted her to act on their behalf.

“Uluata Ekuale made significant financial gains by taking advantage of vulnerable people from her own Samoan community.  Immigration New Zealand will not tolerate this type of offending and the sentence imposed today shows that those undertaking such activities will face severe consequences.” 

By law, anyone giving immigration advice must have a licence from the Immigration Advisers Authority unless they are an exempt person. Exempt people include lawyers and those working at Citizens’ Advice Bureaux. 

Members of the public can find out if an adviser is licensed by checking the Authority’s website: www.iaa.govt.nz or calling them on freephone 0508 422 422.

The register contains people who have been refused a licence, including Ekuale who was refused a licence in June 2010.

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.