A Nelson-based former immigration adviser has been ordered to pay nearly $280,000 in refunds, penalties and compensation for "calculated" and "systematic dishonesty" in his migration advice.
The amount demanded from Glen William Standing by the Immigration Advisers Complaints and Disciplinary Tribunal is the highest demanded from a single person since the licensing regime started in 2009.
Standing is the director of Golden Sands Migration Ltd - which he runs with his wife, Shelley - and a former director of liquidated immigration consultancy firm Living New Zealand Ltd.
The tribunal found Standing falsely claimed he was running "an immigration law firm", gave a 100 per cent guarantee for New Zealand residency and said he could be prosecuted if he didn't secure the visa.
It found Standing to have "personally tailored a deceitful misrepresentation for the individual client".
Tribunal chairman Grant Pearson said: "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."
Standing was found to have received $635,000 in fees from overseas clients for work that had not been completed.
Among Standing's victims were a Japanese woman who resigned from her job and cancelled her apartment tenancy in Osaka and started building a house in New Zealand, only to be detained at the border, and a Bangladeshi student who was told there was a "free flight offer" and jobs awaiting for post-earthquake work by Christchurch employers.
Another couple spent $100,000 relocating their family and establishing a business, only to find out that their ability to remain in New Zealand depended on their business trading profitably within 12 months.
Some of Standing's clients, who lived in the United Kingdom, had met him at organised events.
"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," Mr Pearson said.
The Immigration Advisers Authority said it had received 19 complaints from former clients against Standing, the highest number against an adviser.
"We at the authority are appalled at the shameless deceit perpetrated by Glen Standing," registrar Barry Smedts said.
He said Standing had also been charging an average fee of $7904 for his services, more than twice the going rate which ranged from $2790 for residence visas applied under the family category and $3810 for skilled migrants.
Last year, Standing's licence was cancelled after he was ordered to pay $19,459 in compensation and fined $2000 in a separate tribunal decision for giving wrong immigration advice.
His advice then left six people without jobs and stopped a client from getting a work visa he was entitled to, resulting in 16 weeks of lost income and other avoidable costs.
Standing was also found to have breached the professional code of conduct for withholding the passport of a client in lieu of payment. He could not be contacted yesterday.
Highest penalties demanded from ex-immigration advisers:
$310,612 - Glen Standing (includes previous penalties).
$38,176 - Artika Devi.
$21,276 - Rajesh Kumar.
$16,931 - Chheogyal Jah Om Sandyang Lepcha.
$10,500 - Alungamona Tangilanu.
(source: Immigration Advisers Authority)By Lincoln Tan Email Lincoln