Migration Agent Cancelled Over Fees from PNG miners
Migration agents are being warned to act lawfully following the cancellation of the registration of a migration agent who refused to refund the fees of sacked foreign miners working in Western Australia, Assistant Minister for Immigration and Border Protection, Senator the Hon Michaelia Cash, said last month.
The Office of the Migration Agents Registration Authority (Office of the MARA) cancelled the registration of Kurt Kraues for the maximum of five years for misappropriating client’s money and failing to meet his financial obligations as a registered migration agent.
The Authority found that Mr Kraues had entered into agreements involving substantial fees to 81 miners from Papua New Guinea, through their labour hire company, in an arrangement where they came to work in Australia on 457 visas.
The miners complained that the company had told them they would be eligible for permanent residence after two years in Australia and Mr Kraues was recruited to assist them with their applications.
However the miners lost their jobs after 5-6 months and, following unsuccessful attempts to have fees refunded that they had paid monthly to Mr Kraues, 15 of the miners lodged complaints with OMARA.
Minister Cash said the migration agent had not only acted unlawfully in refusing refunds but also he had not provided any actual immigration assistance to the miners.
‘If these agreements had run their full course, the agent would have received $588,000 in payment from the miners,’ Minister Cash said. ‘I have been advised that the 15 miners who lodged complaints are owed $13,680 and the figure could be as high as $160,000 for all the miners involved.
‘His conduct fell well short of the standards set out under the Code of Conduct for registered migration agents and he posed a serious risk to consumers. This agent’s argument that the miners’ payments to him were a retainer, not a fee for service arrangement, were rightly rejected by OMARA,’ Minister Cash said.
Only people who are registered with the Office of the MARA are permitted to give immigration assistance. People wishing to find out whether an individual is registered as a migration agent can do so by visiting the Office of the MARA’s website at www.mara.gov.au.