Two-year ban for misleading client

3:04 pm on 5 December 2017

An immigration adviser has been banned from the profession for two years after telling her client he did not need to disclose a conviction and then accusing him and the industry watchdog of dishonesty.

Passport stamp visa for travel concept background, New Zealand.

An immigration adviser has been banned from the profession for two years. Photo: 123RF

Amanda Tersia Goldsmith said Sajeev Unnikrishnan fabricated text messages to make it look like she knew he had a drink-drive conviction.

But the Immigration Advisers Complaints and Disciplinary Tribunal ruled she gave him wrong advice and then provided false and misleading information to Immigration New Zealand.

Ms Goldsmith also gave incorrect advice to his partner about getting a student visa, leading to her taking a more expensive university course instead of attending a polytechnic.

The tribunal said Ms Goldsmith's conduct was wholly unacceptable and included a "disgraceful attack" on the registrar of immigration advisers, who is the head of the Immigration Advisers Authority.

"She faced well founded allegations of serious professional misconduct," it said.

"Her response has been to falsely accuse the Registrar of the Authority of dishonesty, and systematically denigrate the complainant and falsely accuse him too of dishonesty.

"At the core of the allegation that Ms Goldsmith entirely abandoned any ethical standards is the finding that she advised a client not to disclose a conviction."

It said not disclosing a conviction was likely to be "disastrous" for an immigrant.

"It is an utterly fundamental principle that doing so will cause grave and often irreparable harm to a migrant's immigration prospects."

In Mr Unnikrishnan's case, he was unable to work for about two months after immigration officials discovered the conviction.

The tribunal said removing someone from the profession was a last resort, but there was a significant need to protect potential clients and the integrity of the immigration regime.

Ms Goldsmith said she had no memory of sending a text advising her client not to disclose his conviction. She apologised and said she had ceased working as an immigration adviser.

She was ordered to pay a $7500 penalty and damages of $4000.

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