New Zealand immigration advisor fined $21,000

- Posted in New Zealand by Visa Bureauon 12 April 2012

Rajesh Kumar, of Hannahraj Consultants Limited in Auckland, has surrendered his licence and been fined for attempting to extort NZ$1,000 (£515) from a client who had already paid NZ$3,600 (£1,850) and had his New Zealand visa approved.

Instead of informing the client his application had been successful, Kumar withheld the man's passport and demanded more money from the client. The client complained to the Immigration Advisers Authority, but not before Kumar had also faxed the client's office 'intending to embarrass him' by demanding a further NZ$500 (£257).

In his defence, Kumar attempted to blame his aunt and memory less, claiming he could not 'distinguish between reality and imagination'.

At a Disciplinary Tribunal, New Zealand immigration officials rejected his claims and described Kumar's actions as 'beyond belief'.

"I was left in no doubt from Mr Kumar's attitude and actions, he thought his professional standing would allow him to exploit a client with impunity, and he systematically sought to do so in this case," said the chair of the Immigration Advisers Complaints and Disciplinary Tribunal.

In a second case, it was revealed that Kumar encouraged a second client to follow an alternative route to apply for a work permit, instead of the route outlined in official documentation.

When the client sought legal advice to complain about Kumar, Kumar himself wrote to the lawyer claiming the client was a criminal and to the New Zealand Law Society to complain about the lawyer.

Kumar claimed that he could not verify the advice he had given the client as "he knew of no more experienced immigration adviser than himself".

"Mr Kumar's misconduct is largely a result of his wrong, and contemptuous views of the immigration regime he is required to work with," said the chair of the tribunal.

"The personal denigration of a former client and their counsel as a response to a complaint is wholly unprofessional, and I regard that conduct as reprehensible."

The New Zealand Visa Bureau is an independent immigration consultancy that specialises in helping people apply for a New Zealand Working Holiday Visa.