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Dishonest immigration adviser struck off the list

A Tongan immigration adviser has been struck off the list for ‘serious dishonesty,’ after a tribunal found that she had pocketed clients’ funds without lodging their visa applications.

Alungamonu (Laki) Tangilanu (Monu) told a client that her secretary had stolen his money and lied to another about submitting her visa application.

In the first case, a Tongan man urgently needed a residence visa, claiming that a newspaper advertisement had mentioned that she would process the application for $600 but later demanded $2500 stating that the earlier fee was not applicable and that the application process would take three months.

He had hired her services on an earlier occasion for a visitor visa.

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, but failed to do so.

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 had not lodged the application.

In the second case, a Tongan mother gave Tangilanu $3320 over four years. Initially she paid Tangilanu $2100 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 the mother found out from INZ that none of the applications had been submitted.

Tribunal decision

The Immigration Advisers Complaints and Disciplinary Tribunal found that Tangilanu’s actions represented a ‘serious example of dishonesty.’

According to the Tribunal, “She had flagrantly breached her professional obligations and her failure to meet these obligations was ‘sustained and intentional.’ Ms Tangilanu has not demonstrated any remorse and identified no mitigating factors.”

Tangilanu voluntarily refunded the mother $1220 to cover the 2011 applications and was ordered to refund the full amount ($2500) to her first client.

In addition, she was ordered to pay $8000 in penalties. She was also prevented from reapplying for an immigration adviser’s licence for two years.

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

“A majority of licensed immigration advisers do a great job for their clients. Sadly, some licensed advisers do not provide good service. Tangilanu’s behaviour in these cases was disgraceful and I am happy that this was 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,” he said.

Source: The Immigration Advisers Authority, Auckland

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