Former immigration lawyer guilty of 93 charges
Former lawyer Richard James Martin, of Albany, has been found guilty of 93 immigration-related charges at Auckland District Court today.
Charges include: providing immigration advice when neither licensed nor exempt, forgery, and supplying false or misleading information to an immigration officer.
By law, anyone providing New Zealand immigration advice must be licensed by the Immigration Advisers Authority, unless exempt. Exempt people include lawyers who hold a New Zealand practising certificate. Mr Martin previously surrendered his practising certificate.
The court heard that, between May 2009 and September 2010, the 49-year-old:
- provided immigration advice to ten families through Richard Martin Immigration Limited
- forged lawyers’ signatures on immigration documents
- used licensed immigration advisers employed at his company to “sign off” visa applications of clients they had never met.
Zannah Johnston, prosecuting on behalf of the Crown on charges brought by the Immigration Advisers Authority and Immigration New Zealand (INZ), said: “Licensed immigration advisers were used to sign applications because Mr Martin was unable to. Some would say he used the advisers as puppets for rubber stamping. Mr Martin met with each of the clients, not the licensed advisers. Mr Martin told clients what the requirements were, what the best times were to make applications, sent letters to the Minister of Immigration and answered questions on how to fill in forms.”
Judge Mary Elizabeth Sharp said: “I found Mr Martin to be a witness of untruth. I am satisfied that he lied throughout his testimony… Ultimately, I am afraid that I reached the conclusion that if it suited him, Mr Martin would swear black was white.”
Mr Martin has been remanded in custody pending sentencing on 1 August 2014 at Auckland District Court.
Charges against Richard James Martin
- 37 counts of Forgery
- 35 counts of Supplying False Or Misleading Information to an Immigration Officer
- 11 counts of Asking for or receiving fees for immigration advice when neither licensed nor exempt
- Nine counts of Providing immigration advice when neither licensed nor exempt
- One count of Holding out as an immigration adviser when neither licensed nor exempt
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:
- issuing licences to people who are fit and competent to give immigration advice
- maintaining competency standards and a code of conduct for immigration advisers
- investigating people giving immigration advice without a licence or exemption
- receiving complaints from people who have received poor immigration advice.
Under the Immigration Advisers Licensing Act 2007(external link) 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