The Manukau District Court sentenced an Auckland man to 20 months in prison for providing immigration advice without a license.
Hakaoro Hakaoro (54) of Cook Island origin had pleaded guilty at an earlier hearing in October 2013 to six counts of providing immigration advice without a licence and one count of posing as an immigration adviser.
Presiding Judge Eddie Paul said: “Your victims were vulnerable people, anxious to secure their status in this country. One can hardly think of a more vulnerable person than one in a foreign land being offered an opportunity to remain in that foreign land when the reality was that offer was unlawful and delivered in a deceitful way. Home detention is not appropriate. It would send the wrong message to the South Auckland community that persons like you can offend and return to the community,” he said in his verdict on January 22.
Mr Hakaoro was ordered to repay $5000 to his victims at the rate of $20 per week upon release.
Immigration Advisers Authority (IAA) brought the charges against him, stating that he had received more than $13,000 from six Tongan nationals who were trying to obtain lawful immigration status for themselves and for their relatives.
The court heard Mr Hakaoro, a New Zealand citizen, had talked three families into paying increasing amounts of money by making several false claims. He had offered to help a couple, who were overstayers to obtain permanent residence in November 2009.
“Mr Hakaoro asked $3000 to assist them with their application and $3000 to provide job offers. Later he also asked to borrow an additional sum of $2000 to pay for his immigration adviser licence. Less than six months later, Immigration New Zealand (INZ) asked the couple to leave New Zealand, stating that there were no visa applications in their name,” an IAA statement said.
In 2010, Mr Hakaoro offered to help a woman, her mother and her husband, collecting in the first instance $3750 and later an additional $3000 for him to travel to Tonga to obtain police records and check their status with INZ.
The Court was told that when the woman became unhappy with Mr Hakaoro and her son tried to intervene, Mr Hakaoro threatened to call INZ and expose the family’s unlawful status.
“Mr Hakaoro told another couple that he had worked for INZ and could get visas for them and members of their family. The couple’s daughter took a loan to pay Mr Hakaoro’s fees, only to learn from INZ that no visa applications had been submitted for their family.
IAA Registrar Barry Smedts, said: “This is a great result for the Pacific community. This case demonstrates that anyone who has had poor immigration advice can turn to the Immigration Advisers Authority for help. We do not deport people and we are separate from INZ.