News Flash: NewJobz leaves migrants short of $600,000
Recruitment company leaves migrants short of $600,000
04 December 2006
By MARTIN VAN BEYNEN
A Christchurch recruitment company owes 229 potential migrants about $600,000, after reneging on its refund policy.
Stu Macann and Associates Ltd, based in
Local creditors have also missed out, but 229 potential migrants, many from
Stu Macann and Associates Ltd started in 2003 with the aim of giving potential migrants an online service (newjobz) to help them secure a job offer in
About eight months ago, the company hit financial trouble, and last week Stu Macann and Associates Ltd ceased trading, although the operation, with a reduced staff, has carried on under Skills New Zealand Ltd.
Skills New Zealand Ltd is owned and run by
Suresh Antil, a pharmacist, 50, who lives just outside
In August, he asked for his money back he paid a $3000 fee of which $2000 was refundable and in October, Lightfoot sent Antil a letter promising to pay by December 15.
However, on November 22, Antil was informed Stu Macann and Associates had ceased trading, and that the new company continuing the business would not honour the refund undertaking.
Antil's daughter, Mahima Sahrawat, who emigrated to
"It's very much money for my father. He is still paying very heavy interest on the loan."
Lightfoot told The Press the original company was facing liquidation, because of financial troubles, and it had taken legal advice on how it should proceed.
The refund policy had undermined the company, and made it unsustainable, he said.
"We said we'll get you a job or your money back, which was a fantastically charitable thing to say, looking back. But we did, and we have been very successful in placing a lot of people into
"Eight months ago we realised the policy was causing us some problems, because people were taking advantage of it. We were paying out money to people who had used our services for 18 months. They used our time, our energy, our job-searching programme, and then asked for a refund," he said.
Some had been offered 17 jobs, but had turned them all down, and some turned down a job and then moved to
"We understand why you are talking to us. We have lost personally. We believe we are doing the right thing by the migrants and always have done. We don't feel in any way we have done anything wrong except we understand we wrote a contract which we did not honour and that's that."
He agreed it was not a good look for
"We are extraordinarily unhappy about what's happened here. It's been an emotional drain on us all."
Skills New Zealand Ltd would continue to work for the clients who wanted to stay with the firm but no refunds would be given.
A statement on the company's website that it was a "registered immigration agent" was not misleading, despite the fact the firm was not on any immigration agent register, he said.
"We are registered as much as anyone else is registered. The process of registration is going through right now with Immigration New Zealand and we're part of that registration process."
The Labour Department's deputy secretary, Mary Anne Thompson, said: "As there is currently no authority that oversees the registration of immigration advisers, agents cannot call themselves regis-tered agents."
The Immigration Advisers Licensing Bill, which was wait-ing to be passed into legis-lation, would create a licensing authority within the Depart-ment of Labour to administer a licensing regime, she said.
Lightfoot said local creditors were also left owed money by the company change and 21 staff had been made redundant.
Bernard Walsh, chairman of the New Zealand Association for Migration and Investment, said his organisation deplored any actions that brought the nation's immigration system into disrepute. "Certainly, what has happened here will reflect very badly on
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