We hear another story of a would-be immigrant let down by an unethical immigration adviser, who was willing to use his clients’ predicament to his own advantage.
Mr Richard Prakash, an Auckland licensed immigration adviser, acted for Mr Chand and his family on a work visa application, which was eventually declined. Subsequently, the parties agreed that a request to review the decline decision be made by the adviser. There was a disputed fact over a fee matter between the parties. Nonetheless, the adviser failed to have the agreement in writing as requested by the clause 1.5 of the Code of Conduct governing all licensed immigration advisers.
The fatal error of judgment by the adviser came later in the event where the clients exhausted all avenues to remain in New Zealand. The adviser, despite being in the best position to appreciate the clients’ predicament and willingness to return to their home country, decided to press the clients to pay more by way of withholding the clients’ passports.
The Immigration Advisers Disciplinary Tribunal has found the adviser’s impugned conduct of withholding his clients’ passports utterly unprofessional and dishonest: per para 58, Chand v Prakash  NZIACDT 60. The Tribunal observed that there are few things so universally understood to be unprofessional and dishonest conduct [other than that of the adviser].
The Tribunal’s decision has recently been followed by a stern sanction of striking off the immigration adviser’s license pursuant to s 51 of the Immigration Advisers Licensing Act 2007. The Adviser was also ordered to pay $2,500, and is prevented from re-applying for the license within 2 years following his disqualification.
One may think it was a bit harsh to destroy the livelihood of the adviser, compared with the losses eventually suffered by the clients. However, where there has been a gross abuse of a position of trust for pecuniary interest of his or her own, the Tribunal seems to find no wiggle room for tolerance.