Interpreter charged with 150 bogus asylum claims pleads not guilty

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An interpreter has pleaded not guilty to participating in what immigration officials say was an organized scheme involving more than 150 bogus asylum claims.

Nurul Noor Azman faces five charges under the Immigration Act.
Photo: ikiryo/123RF

Nurul Noor Azman faces five charges under the Immigration Act for providing false or misleading information to a reception officer.

The deletion of the performer’s name has expired and he is due to stand trial in November.

RNZ revealed [last week https://www.rnz.co.nz/news/national/469583/asylum-fraud-probe-into-158-claims-interpreter-charged

that Immigration New Zealand (INZ) launched an investigation] after finding “striking similarities” in the asylum claims of some Indonesians and Malaysians already in New Zealand.

Immigration officials believe 158 cases are part of the same cluster, which they say appears to be “a deliberate ploy to exploit New Zealand’s refugee and protection system”.

Most asylum seekers said that without refugee status to protect them, they would face reprisals from loan sharks in Indonesia and Malaysia.

All but 13 refugee claims, which were thought to belong to the same cohort, have since been withdrawn or rejected. Two were successful for reasons unrelated to claims of lenders extorting money and 11 have yet to be decided.

Some had used identical terms to express their fear of being attacked if they returned home, and they all lived in the same New Zealand town, including some at the same address, and all had the same legal representative.

“The allegations of harm bore striking similarities to each other,” a Refugee Status Branch officer told an appeals tribunal. “In some cases, the information was verbatim or nearly identical, suggesting that ‘patterns’ were used. unlicensed pawnbrokers.”

INZ’s Acting Director General of Refugee and Migrant Services, Loretta Elive-Daunakamakama, earlier told RNZ that the alleged scheme was detected during processing, when it was evident that a high number of similar applications were filed.

Many claimants did not pursue their applications, with 67 withdrawing them before a decision was made and others failing to appear for an interview to determine their refugee status, she said.

“When the scheme was detected, a notification to the agency was initiated. Following further investigative work, charges have now been laid and the matter is due to go to court.

“Of the 78 unsuccessful applications, 38 (10 Malaysian, 28 Indonesian) were determined by the Refugee and Protection Officer after the applicant failed to appear for the scheduled interview and provided no explanation acceptable for his no-show.”

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