Australian company Clinica International and its managing director have been fined $1.025 million for running a visa scam offering training courses and job placements to prospective migrants.
The action was taken in the Federal Court by the Consumer Competition and Consumer Commission against Clinica and managing director Radovan Laski.
The company offered a training course and job placements that would allegedly allow participants to qualify as permanent residents with a 187 visa under the Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme.
The training related to cleaning and was advertised on public transport.
The court found at least 97 people paid over $800,000 for the service.
However, the company did not have any cleaning jobs to offer and they would not have qualified them for permanent residence status.
Some were offered work in an abattoir and others were aggressively pursued through the courts for various fees.
The court found that Clinica had engaged in “misleading or deceptive conduct, made misleading representations about its services and engaged in unconscionable conduct” contrary to Australian Consumer Law.
“Clinica took advantage of the desperation of its prospective clients, all the while having no realistic basis to believe it could deliver on what it had sought payment for,” Justice Debbie Mortimer said in her judgment.
“It is critical that the court do what it can to deter others from establishing business models that seek to prey unlawfully on peoples’ desperation for secure visa status in Australia.”
The company is required to provide full refunds to all clients and was fined $700,000.
Mr Laski was fined $325,000.
The court heard that this was not the first time Mr Laski had engaged in similar unlawful conduct.
“That he should do so demonstrates a cavalier attitude to the law’s regulation of trade practices, and a disregard and disinterest in adhering to his, and his companies’, legal obligations in preference for advancing his own commercial and financial interests, again through the use of corporate entities,” the judge said.
“In my opinion, Mr Laski appears not to learn any lessons from these experiences, but rather shuts his eyes to consequences while he pursues his own interests.”
Mr Laski has been disqualified from managing corporations for five years.
The court has not yet made final orders in the proceeding because there is an outstanding issue relating to Mr Lanski’s ex-wife.
Source : ABC NEWS AU