Convicted kidnapper denied realtor licence
A convicted Chinese kidnapper has been refused a real estate agent’s licence despite former Immigration Minister Shane Jones supporting her working here.
Yang Shi was found guilty in 2006 of kidnapping for her role in a 2004 crime where an Auckland man was taken and a ransom of $60,000 paid for his release by his Chinese relatives.
The Chinese woman was one of four offenders involved in the kidnapping and was ‘‘the lure’’ inducing the man to meeting the kidnappers, earning her $6000 of the $60,000 ransom.
Shi was sentenced to 18 months imprisonment which she served as home detention.
Sentencing Judge David Wilson QC said Shi’s role was critical in the kidnapping as she got the victim to the Auckland roadside where the snatch took place.
Shi took no part in detaining the man, where he was bound, gagged, punched and threatened with a knife and gun over several days. But she banked $6000 extorted from the man, of which she spent $5200 including $2800 on return airfares to China for Shi and her boyfriend - who was also in on the crime.
The now 29-year-old Shi applied last year for a real estate agent’s salesperson licence after gaining a National Certificate in Real Estate.
Her application was declined, and Shi lodged an appeal.
In its decision on Shi’s appeal, the Real Estate Agents Disciplinary Tribunal noted Shi’s youth at the time of the offending, her lack of support in New Zealand and that she had been granted New Zealand residency since the crime.
Shi came to New Zealand as a 16-year-old from China to study and was 20 at the time of the kidnapping. She was studying at Auckland University.
Shi’s evidence included a 2007 letter from then Labour Associate Immigration Minister Shane Jones granting a ‘‘special direction’’ to enable her to have a one-year work permit despite her kidnapping conviction.
Since the conviction, Shi worked in a cafe and latterly at Ray White Henderson, although not in sales.
In her evidence, Shi said when the real estate registrar declined her application for a licence she felt she had been ‘‘punished again and can never leave the past behind’’.
‘‘The reason I’m submitting this application is I want to fight to have a second chance.’’
Shi said she was now an honest, fit and proper person to hold a licence.
However, the tribunal said that it ‘‘may well be’’ that the applicant had reformed, but there was a degree of minimisation in her application about her offending and there was also an element of financial gain.
The tribunal found her involvement was ‘‘so serious’’ that she can’t be regarded as a fit and proper person to hold a licence as a real estate salesperson and rejected her appeal.
Shi can appeal to the High Court.
The Real Estate Agents Authority welcomed the decision and said the applicant committed serious criminal offending for the purpose of financial gain and this conduct is incompatible with the high standards expected under the consumer-focused Real Estate Agents Act 2008.
‘‘Buying or selling a property is often the largest and most important transaction a consumer will ever be involved in and it is essential that they can rely on the honesty and integrity of the licensees they are dealing with.’’