‘Ad­viser’ preyed on vul­ner­a­ble


Two women who went to a Porirua man to help get visas to stay in New Zealand lost their money and ended up back where they started, in Samoa.

One wo­man’s hus­band was still in New Zealand and she hoped to be re­united with him, but doubted that was pos­si­ble.

She was in­tro­duced to Mene­fata Toso through a mem­ber of the church where he was a dea­con.

In the Porirua District Court on Wed­nes­day, Toso, 70, also known as Limu M F Asi­ata, was sen­tenced to 10 months’ home de­ten­tion and or­dered to re­pay the women $5410 at $20 per week.

Toso pleaded guilty to 10 charges of pro­vid­ing im­mi­gra­tion ad­vice with­out a li­cence and re­ceiv­ing fees for im­mi­gra­tion ad­vice while know­ing he was not li­censed.

Judge Jan Kelly said Im­mi­gra­tion New Zealand had told Toso in Septem­ber 2013 that he was not a li­censed ad­viser and would need to be li­censed, but he con­tin­ued to give im­mi­gra­tion ad­vice any­way. He had a com­pany Mene T Con­sult­ing Agency Ltd.

One of his vic­tims was a Samoan over­stayer who paid him $3500 to help her with visa ap­pli­ca­tions, in­clud­ing $1300 for him to lobby a govern­ment min­is­ter on her be­half. Her ap­pli­ca­tions were de­clined. An­other Samoan wo­man went to Toso for help for her­self and her fam­ily in Novem­ber 2013.

He rec­om­mended her son get a New Zealand part­ner to help his ap­pli­ca­tion, and the fam­ily handed over their pass­ports to him.

They trusted him to sub­mit visa ap­pli­ca­tions on their be­half and he told them he was li­censed.

By April 2014 her tem­po­rary visa had ex­pired, she learnt she and her chil­dren were over­stay­ers, and that no visa ap­pli­ca­tions had been made.

Toso’s lawyer, Peter Foster, said at an ear­lier hear­ing that Toso had worked hard on be­half of the peo­ple he thought he was help­ing.

He con­tended that Toso had not given in­ac­cu­rate or in­com­pe­tent ad­vice; he was sim­ply un­li­censed.

How­ever, the judge took is­sue with that, and said his of­fend­ing had a ‘‘huge im­pact on par­tic­u­larly vul­ner­a­ble vic­tims’’.

Im­mi­gra­tion ad­vis­ers had to be li­censed to pro­tect the peo­ple com­ing to them for ad­vice, Im­mi­gra­tion Ad­vis­ers Author­ity’s Cather­ine Al­bis­ton said in a state­ment af­ter Toso pleaded guilty.

El­yse Child’s ex­hi­bi­tion Mother­care is show­ing at 18 Hartham Place North from July 23 un­til July 29.

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