30 Nov : A recent sentencing handed down in Sydney is a timely reminder that the community needs to be aware of people purporting to be migration agents.
Mohamed Maarbani appeared at Sydney District Court on November 26 after pleading guilty to two offences involving falsely taking money to represent people in migration matters at times when he was not a registered migration agent.
The court handed down a two-year custodial sentence, which was suspended immediately on payment of a recognisance. Mr Maarbani was also ordered to repay $2500 of fees to his victims.
The Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) investigated Mr Maarbani after complaints were received that he was paid money to lodge visa applications that were never lodged. This led to the successful prosecution of Mr Maarbani by the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions.
“This sentence serves as a warning to illegal operators that the risks are high and they will be caught,” a departmental spokesman said.
“The unlawful provision of immigration assistance by unregistered people affects the lives of consumers, challenges the integrity of Australia’s migration program and unfairly brings the reputation of more than 4000 registered migration agents into disrepute.”
The Office of the Migration Agents Registration Authority (Office of the MARA) was formed in 2009 to maintain confidence in registered agents and its CEO, Christine Sykes, believes this is paramount.
“The latest conviction will help,” Ms Sykes said. “Such unlawful behaviour can adversely affect the lives of our clients and challenges the integrity of Australia’s visa program.
“As migration decisions are life-changing and involve considerable financial and emotional investments on behalf of prospective migrants, it is important clients have confidence in the professionalism and integrity of their migration agent.”
The department encourages people in the community to report unregistered people to DIAC’s dob-in line (1800 009 623) or through the website, www.immi.gov.au/contacts/forms/services/services-form.htm so appropriate action can be taken to protect consumers.