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Woman pleads guilty to unlawful immigration advice charges

Woman pleads guilty to three charges of unlawful immigration advice

An Auckland woman has pleaded guilty to three charges laid by the Immigration Advisers Authority (IAA) of unlawfully asking for a fee for immigration advice, and taking payment, from four of her family members and friends in the Tongan community.

Lealeifuaneva Linda Moala appeared in the Manukau District Court yesterday and has been remanded on bail to reappear before court on 28 June 2018.

The Registrar of Immigration Advisers, Catherine Albiston, says “The facts in this case are another example of someone taking advantage of Tongan and Pacific people who are in a tough spot. We’ll continue to actively investigate and prosecute offenders like Ms Moala.”

Ms Moala pleaded guilty to two charges under the Immigration Advisers Licencing Act 2007. She asked for a fee for the provision of immigration advice knowing she was neither licensed nor exempt. She also pleaded guilty to one charge under the Crimes Act 1961 of obtaining a payment by deception. She led the victims to believe she was an Immigration Officer, when she was not.

“The IAA hope that cases like this will raise awareness amongst Pacific communities in New Zealand, as well as in Tonga, Samoa and Fiji, that it is not acceptable to provide unlawful immigration advice.

“If people need help with a visa application, they should only use a licensed immigration adviser or exempt person such as a current New Zealand lawyer,” says Ms Albiston.

The IAA’s online register of licensed advisers is available for those who want to search for a licensed immigration adviser. More information on the IAA can be found at www.iaa.govt.nz.

The IAA looks into all complaints made by the public about unlicensed immigration advice. Individuals found breaking the law can face up to seven years in prison and a fine of up to NZD$100,000.

[ENDS]


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