Immigration adviser must pay for 'deceit'

Last updated 17:15 11/10/2012

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A ''calculating'' former Golden Bay immigration adviser who overcharged clients and gave false promises has been ordered to pay more than a quarter of a million dollars by a tribunal.

Glen William Standing must pay nearly $280,000 in refunds, penalties and compensation - the highest amount demanded from a single person - as requested by the Licensed Immigration Advisers Complaints and Disciplinary Tribunal.

Nineteen clients had made complaints against Standing to the Immigration Advisers Authority, of which two were upheld last year and the remaining 17 were upheld last August.

The Tribunal found Standing had tried various ways to persuade clients to part with''excessive'' fees, including guaranteeing New Zealand residency and saying he could be prosecuted if he did not secure the visa.

He was also charging clients an average of $7904 for a Family (Partner) Category visa, more than the $2790 to $3810 charged by other advisers, and liquidators looking into his failed company, Living New Zealand, found he had acquired around $635,000 in fees from overseas clients for work he had not completed.

The Tribunal said Standing ''personally tailored a deceitful misrepresentation for the individual client''.

''The deceit was not puffery or exaggeration. It was calculated dishonesty for personal gain. His objective was to solicit fees, with the intention of not delivering the services the clients were promised, and paid for.''

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 her family and establishing a business only to discover their ability to remain in the country depended on their business having the potential to trade profitably within 12 months. 

''In many, if not all, cases the fees Mr Standing solicited came from clients who could ill afford to lose money they had put aside to pursue a major lifestyle ambition for themselves and their family,'' the Tribunal said.

''The pattern of systematic deception involved a contemptuous disregard for the trust clients placed in Mr Standing as a licensed professional.''

Standing was censured and prevented from reapplying for a licence for two years.

His licence had already been cancelled for giving wrong advice to a client last year. His company went into liquidation in August 2011 after he was fined more $20,000.

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