10 Oct 2013

Government to review licensing of immigration advisers

7:16 am on 10 October 2013

The Government is to review next year the licensing of immigration advisers, amid criticism the law is failing to adequately punish and deter the serial abuse of clients.

The criticism comes after two licensed advisers were struck off for systematically taking money from Tongan clients for help they never intended to provide.

One adviser, Hakaoro Hakaoro, tried to get clients deported so he could keep their money, and told one young woman he'd help her if she did unpaid housework and had sex with him.

Lawyers for some of the victims, Nelson Tupou and Richard Small, say the maximum penalty of a two-year ban is a joke.

Mr Tupou says the law should be changed to allow bans for life.

"The decision makers in Wellington, they need to wake up. Having an objective look at people like Hakaora, the law doesn't work.

"It's supposed to be there to protect the vulnerable people but it's not."

IImmigration Minister Michael Woodhouse says there will be a review next year of the Immigration Advisers Authority and its legislation, including penalties, compliance and enforcement.