The illegal 'alien' no-one wants
MARTIN VAN BEYNEN
New Zealanders don't want him and neither do the Americans.
But failed businessman Harmon Wilfred seems to have found the perfect way to stay illegally in New Zealand.
Wilfred, who has lived in Christchurch since 2001 with his Canadian wife Carolyn Wilfred-Dare, renounced his United States citizenship in 2005 over alimony payments and other issues. Since then he has been an overstayer in New Zealand but Immigration New Zealand (INZ) cannot force him to leave until the US agrees to take him back.
Wilfred, who claims to have been a CIA contractor, believes he will persecuted by the CIA in the US over allegations he made about a billion dollar fraud involving CIA officers.
INZ Compliance Operations Manager Natalie Gardiner said INZ had so far failed to reach an agreement with American authorities over "facilitating" Wilfred's return to the US. He needed a travel document or the prior agreement of receiving border agencies to be deported.
"Harmon Wilfred has been unlawfully in New Zealand for more than nine years. He has no legal status in New Zealand and he should leave the country as soon as possible," Gardiner said.
The fact someone came to New Zealand and destroyed his passport was not necessarily an impediment to deportation.
INZ had close relationships with border agencies around the world and in many cases they would issue a new passport or give permission for an individual to be allowed entry without a passport.
"INZ is extremely concerned that Mr Wilfred was able to renounce his American citizenship without holding citizenship of another country. This situation is extremely unusual as most countries will not allow a person to renounce their citizenship unless they hold the citizenship of another country."
Wilfred and his wife, who has an income from the Dare foodstuffs empire based in Ontario, have poured substantial amounts of money into businesses in Christchurch but most have failed.
His company La Famia No 2 Ltd was placed in liquidation last year by a resolution of the shareholders. The company operated a function centre at the former Royal NZ Air Force officers' club in Wigram but was evicted for not paying rent.
A liquidator's report showed the company owed employees $9570 in holiday pay and $61,000 in awards against the operation made by the Employment Relations Authority (ERA). IRD was owned $66,810 in GST and $228,000 in PAYE payments. General creditors were out of pocket by $246,000. Ironically the Wigram building, then under Wilfred's control, housed a large contingent of IRD staff after the Canterbury earthquakes.
After his arrival in NZ, Wilfred was involved with Christchurch's Champion Centre and then set up his own foundation, La Famia, to provide family support services, few of which eventuated.
In 2012 he claimed to be working with Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee on a special economic zone proposal for Christchurch's rebuild but Brownlee said he had not met Wilfred.
Wilfred and his wife have registered five charities with the Charities Commission. An investigation in 2011 showed the charities employed only one fulltime staff member and lost $438,000 in 2010.
The Government has had several embarrassing contacts with Wilfred. In 2011, Work and Income gave $79,000 to a charitable trust he ran and in the same year then associate immigration minister Kate Wilkinson appeared on Wilfred's La Famia radio show. Wilfred contributed to National MP David Carter's election campaign in 2002 and both Carter and Christchurch National MP Nicky Wagner have written references for Wilfred and his wife.
Another Wilfred company, La Famia No 1, was placed in liquidation in February and creditors, including former staff, have moved to liquidate another Wilfred concern, Wilfred Investments.
Carolyn Dare-Wilfred remains in New Zealand on a business visa.
Immigration Minister Michael Woodhouse told the Sunday Star-Times he had raised Wilfred with the US Embassy and requested officials reconsider issuing a travel document so that he could be deported, "given the circumstances in which Wilfred was able to relinquish his US citizenship while illegally in New Zealand".
Woodhouse said Wilfred's case was "unique" and unlikely to happen again.
"I am satisfied that this situation has not been brought about by a deficiency or loophole in New Zealand's own immigration laws."
Wilfred has said forcing him to return to the United States would be inhumane because of a vendetta against him by high-placed officials.
He has set up a website, called the World Wide Web Court of Justice, to air his complaints against the US justice system.
- Sunday Star Times