Immigration adviser who faked emails from Associate Immigration Minister suspended

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An immigration adviser who faked emails from the Associate Immigration Minister has had his licence temporarily suspended by the Immigration Advisers Complaints and Disciplinary Tribunal.

Philip Leslie Wharekura, a Rotorua-based licensed immigration adviser, admitted to falsifying two emails from the Associate Minister's officer to show his client that he had filed a special direction request to the minister when he had not.

Wharekura, a director of NZ Educational and Training Services Limited, was found to have falsely informed his client that he had lodged the request with the Associate Minister.
"Mr Wharekura admits that he falsified two emails from the Associate Minister's office to him showing that he had filed a special direction request with the minister, and he had copied the emails to the complainant," tribunal chairman David Plunkett wrote in his decision dated September 26.

"In fact, he had not lodged the special direction request at all."
Wharekura said in his submission that he did not do it for financial advantage, but because he thought the residence application - in the way preferred by the client - would be unsuccessful and would cost him time and money.

He acknowledged to having made a serious error of judgement because he had assumed he knew what was best for the client, and that an alternative pathway for residence would have been more successful.

Plunkett said it was necessary to suspend Wharekura's licence "having regard to the interests of the public".

In the last 12 months, Wharekura had filed 227 applications with INZ.

"Public confidence in the immigration system and the profession requires removing from him in the interim his ability to represent prospective migrants in dealings with Immigration New Zealand," he said.

Plunkett described the complaint as "substantive" and that it will be accorded priority.
The complaint, lodged by the client against Wharekura to the Immigration Advisers Authority accused him of dishonest and misleading behaviour.

Wharekura's licence was suspended from 5pm on September 26 until the tribunal has determined the complaint against him or upon further order varying the suspension.
He could appeal to the District Court against the decision within 20 days.