Fijian woman convicted in NZ, faces jail then deportation on immigration frauds
Kamla Wati, 59, tried and failed several times to get into New Zealand and was eventually granted a visa under an alias.
She remained in the country for eight months before she was tracked down by Immigration staff and police.
Wati was today sentenced to 19 months’ jail after pleading guilty to three charges of providing false or misleading information to an immigration officer in respect of visa applications and one charge of producing a fraudulently obtained passport.
The Hamilton District Court heard that Wati visited New Zealand from Fiji three times between September 2009 and March 2012. She then unsuccessfully applied for residency, and numerous visitor visa applications were declined on character grounds.
Wati’s return to New Zealand in 2015 was initially undetected by authorities because she entered under the fraudulently obtained passport under the alias “Rukhmanny”.
Wati’s lawyer Jarom Keung said she had persisted in getting into the country to help a family member who was being abused and who also had mental health issues.
Wati also suffered from severe health problems from being in prison, he said.
Through Keung, Wati’s family hoped she would get home detention, but Judge Simon Menzies agreed with Immigration NZ counsel Aaron McIlroy’s submission that the offending was serious and needed to be deterred.
McIlroy said Wati had a sense of entitlement and still protested her innocence over six previous shoplifting convictions.
Immigration New Zealand assistant general manager Peter Devoy says the dual identities came to light when Wati was asked to provide her original passport as part of the verification process for a partnership-based temporary visa application she made.
“A facial comparison between photographs of Wati and Rukhmanny indicated they were the one and same person,” Devoy says.
“A subsequent fingerprint analysis corroborated the facial recognition evidence.
“The integrity of the immigration system is paramount, and this type of fraud will not be tolerated. Today’s sentence is a strong deterrent.”
Once Wati has served her sentence she will be deported to Fiji.
Wati was also convicted for shoplifting beauty products from a Palmerston North pharmacy in December 2011.