'Shameless' immigration adviser ordered to pay $280,000
A former Golden Bay immigration adviser, chastised by a disciplinary tribunal for his "systematic dishonesty", has copped a record penalty.
Glen William Standing must pay nearly $280,000 in refunds, penalties and compensation – the highest amount demanded from a single person by the Immigration Advisers Complaints and Disciplinary Tribunal.
A total of 19 complaints against Standing have been upheld – two last year and 17 in August.
The tribunal found he had tried various ways to persuade clients to part with "excessive" fees, including guaranteeing New Zealand residency, and making the false claim that he could be prosecuted if he did not secure a visa.
Standing said yesterday from Westport that the decision and fine were very disappointing.
"My initial reaction was disgust."
He maintained that his actions had not been dishonest or illegal, and that the information provided to the tribunal was "completely wrong".
Standing's company, Living New Zealand Ltd, has now been struck off the Companies Office register.
Liquidator Geoff Falloon's final report showed the company owed an estimated $489,344, with no funds left to pay more than 50 individual and business creditors in New Zealand and overseas.
Falloon said yesterday there had been conflicting reports over the amounts owed. He was unable to comment on Standing's ability to pay the penalty.
"Let's hope he can," he said.
Standing said he would have to take further legal advice on paying the fine. He disagreed with the estimate of $480,000 owing.
Early in the dispute, the figure had only worked out at around $23,000, he said.
He said that from the outset, he had not been given the chance to respond to the tribunal with regard to any of the complaints against him.
The liquidator had assumed responsibility, which left him with no access to his files, he said.
"The information provided was incorrect."
The entire process needed to be investigated, he said.
"I've accepted there's nothing I can do. Just take it on the chin in terms of refunding the money.
"I accept responsibility of not completing those files. Am I sorry? Yes, I'm absolutely gutted.
"We'd had hundreds of successful applications, and the only reason we did not complete [the contested applications] was because my licence was revoked."
This was through no fault or actions of his own, he said.
The Immigration Advisers Authority said its website showed that the average fees for residence visas charged by licensed immigration advisers ranged from $2790 to $3810, but Mr Standing charged his 17 clients an average $7904.
It said liquidators found he had acquired around $635,000 in fees from overseas clients for work that had not been completed.
As a result of Standing's promises, a Japanese woman resigned from her job, cancelled the tenancy of her apartment in Osaka and started having a house built in New Zealand, only to be detained at the border and forced to explain why she was attempting to enter the country.
Another couple spent $100,000 relocating with their family and establishing a business, only to discover that their ability to remain in the country depended on the business having the potential to trade profitably within 12 months.
An authority spokeswoman said that on top of the 19 upheld complaints, the authority had another outstanding complaint against Standing, which it was preparing to send to the tribunal.
Authority registrar of immigration advisers Barry Smedts said he urged consumers to read the Immigration Advice Consumer Guide.
"We at the authority are appalled at the shameless deceit perpetrated by Glen Standing.
"The only way people can avoid this kind of thing is to do their homework beforehand. Potential migrants about to spend a large amount of money on a life-changing decision need to read our consumer guide before hiring an immigration adviser."
Standing's company went into liquidation in August 2011 after he was also fined more than $20,000 and had his immigration adviser's licence cancelled for providing incorrect advice. Mr Standing said he had paid that fine.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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