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Unlicensed immigration adviser sentenced to more than three and a half years jail

Media release

13 November 2014

Unlicensed immigration adviser Richard Martin has today been sentenced to three years and seven months’ imprisonment after being found guilty on 93 immigration-related charges in June.

The 49 year old former immigration lawyer was sentenced in the Auckland District Court this morning on charges including providing immigration advice when neither licensed nor exempt, forgery and supplying false or misleading information to an immigration officer.

The offending was committed between May 2009 and September 2010 when Martin provided immigration advice through Richard Martin Immigration Limited and forged lawyers’ signatures on immigration documents.

Acting Registrar of Immigration Advisers Catherine Albiston says, “The Immigration Advisers Authority (IAA) was set up to protect those seeking New Zealand immigration advice. The public can have confidence that the IAA takes unlicensed activity very seriously and will prosecute unlicensed advisers found to be operating outside the law. “

She says today’s sentence is the heaviest penalty handed down to an unlicensed adviser, since the Immigration Advisers Authority was established in 2007, and reflects the seriousness of the offending.

Acting Assistant General Manager of Compliance and Border Operations at Immigration New Zealand (INZ) Arron Baker says today’s sentencing is a result of a thorough investigation by INZ and the IAA. 

“Today’s sentencing should act as a deterrent to any other unlicensed adviser operating outside the system. They can expect the full force of INZ, IAA and New Zealand Police, if necessary, to ensure the integrity of our systems are maintained and vulnerable people are protected. “

In victim impact statements, the Court heard of the emotional, financial and psychological implications on a number of victims, with many of them forced to return to their home countries, as a direct result of Martin’s offending.

At today’s sentencing, Judge Mary Elizabeth Sharp said that it was clear Mr Martin’s clients had been badly duped by him and felt extremely let down.

Judge Sharp spoke of one of Mr Martin’s clients who was in New Zealand legitimately, believing he was processing her visa application to remain in the country, but after she contacted Immigration New Zealand, despite numerous failed attempts at contacting Mr Martin, the victim was advised that there was no active visa application for her and she was in New Zealand unlawfully.

Catherine Albiston says, “We encourage anyone seeking New Zealand immigration advice to use a licensed immigration adviser, or an exempt person. Licensed immigration advisers are immigration specialists; they must meet competency standards and follow a code of conduct. All licensed advisers can be found on a publicly available register on our website

 

ENDS

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.