4 Nov 2016

Officials in the dark over key figure at IANZ

1:57 pm on 4 November 2016

The New Zealand Qualifications Authority (NZQA) did not know a man with a history of mistreating migrants was a key figure at a failed private international academy, despite a two year investigation.

Classroom, school

Photo: 123RF

RNZ has obtained an email that shows that Amrik Singh Sangha was the marketing director of the International Academy of New Zealand (IANZ) in 2012, and recruited overseas students for the now defunct private tertiary institution until it was sold to another institution.

The school was investigated in September for multiple educational and governance failures including falsifying information and passing many students it should have failed.

In 2012, the Employment Relations Authority accepted Mr Singh had taken thousands of dollars off a migrant employee by threatening to derail her work visa.

A year earlier, vineyard workers of his were caught in a fish factory in breach of their visas, and served deportation liability notices.

Amrik Singh Sangha

Amrik Singh Sangha. Photo: Supplied

And last year, in an interview transcript submitted to a human trafficking trial in the High Court in Nelson, a witness told his lawyer that Mr Sangha told him to lie to immigration investigators.

The law requires people in positions of the type occupied by Mr Singh at IANZ to provide a statutory declaration that they are a fit and proper person to run a school.

But the NZQA said it has never received any information that Mr Singh was in such a position, and because he did not submit any application, it never asked Immigration New Zealand about him.

However, NZQA deputy director Grant Klinkum told RNZ it regularly checked that key people running schools have given it information to prove they are fit and proper to hold their positions.

However, Dr Klinkum refused to talk about AMr Singh, citing the ongoing investigation, in which the Crown Solicitor is considering whether there is a case against the IANZ's directors.

Dr Klinkum was also unable to say when NZQA last discovered a key person in a private tertiary school had broken the law by not providing the statutory declaration and CV.

"I can tell you that NZQA constantly monitors the activities of PTEs (Private Training Establishments), including whether they conform to submitting their statutory declarations," he said.

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