4 Corners targets Chinese money laundering

By Leith van Onselen

ABC’s Four Corners is wet to continue its stellar run of form, airing an episode tonight entitled The Great Wall of Money, which will include an examination of the billions of dollars of illicit Chinese funds flooding Australian real estate. From ABC News:

Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre (AUSTRAC) former head John Schmidt told ABC’s Four Corners that Australia should cover itself from corruption.

“Real estate is recognised internationally as one of the means by which people will launder money, yet we ourselves have not covered the field as yet,” Mr Schmidt said.

In his last sit-down interview as treasurer Joe Hockey agreed Australia’s safeguards against the global flow of dirty money should be strengthened.

“Currently they are not appropriately covered by the anti-money laundering legislation, but it obviously needs to take place,” Mr Hockey said.

Despite highly credible warnings that large volumes of illicit money leaving China were being laundered in Australia, a Four Corners investigation found no Australian agency was charged with identifying the true source of foreign funds being invested into the economy…

Two former [FIRB] board members have confirmed to Four Corners, concerns about offshore corruption were rarely discussed.

That is despite $US1.25 trillion ($1.7 trillion) worth of corrupt and criminal proceeds from China estimated to have been spent around the world in the decade to 2012…

One former FIRB director — who asked to remain anonymous — said the organisation held “no concerns about corruption”…

Another former board member, Chris Miles, told Four Corners FIRB did not concern itself with identifying the true source of funds from offshore.

“Where the money came from is somebody else’s responsibility,” he said…

The problem lies with the fact no federal authority — including AUSTRAC — has checked the source of funds used to invest in Australia from China, unless there were obvious concerns about drug trafficking or other serious crimes.

Mr Schmidt said Australian law-enforcement authorities did not have the resources to filter the billions flowing in from China.

The evidence suggesting that Australian real estate is a magnet for illicit Chinese funds is overwhelming.

Earlier this year, the Paris-based Financial Action Task Force (FATF) on money laundering warned that Australian residential property is a haven for international money laundering, particularly from China. The Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre (AUSTRAC) also warned that “laundering of illicit funds through real estate is an established money laundering method in Australia”.

These views have been supported by other notable “experts”, including Alexon Bell from British business analytics and intelligence software company, SAS, who warned that student accounts are being used as “a funnel for organised crime groups to start getting money into the country”, most notably into real estate. Fairfax’s Michael West has provided similar evidence recently.

One wonders how long the Australian Government can continue to ignore this issue.

Australia’s draft rules on anti-money laundering (AML) affecting real estate were released in 2007, but have been largely ignored by the federal government ever since. In the meantime, dodgy foreign money – mostly from China – has been allowed to help price young Australians out of home ownership.

Indeed, the huge share of established homes selling to foreign buyers suggests that the problem is rife, particularly in Melbourne and Sydney:

ScreenHunter_8437 Jul. 21 13.03

Tightening Australia’s anti-money laundering rules makes perfect macro-economic sense, since it would take the heat out of housing, lower financial stability risks, and allow the RBA to lower interest rates further than would otherwise be possible, putting downward pressure on the dollar. As noted by Michael West recently month:

…record low rates, record high property prices, record household debt to income levels (150 per cent plus) and banks lending at 95 per cent loan-to-valuation ratios is potentially catastrophic – especially in the event that unemployment rises. So why is the government dithering on AML?

It’s time for the Government to stop its willful neglect and put the clamp on corrupt money gushing into Australia’s homes. Hopefully, this Four Corners investigation will shine a much needed light on the issue and force Australia’s politicians into action.

[email protected]

Unconventional Economist

Comments

  1. “ABC’s Four Corners is wet to continue its stellar run of form”…im pretty hot for it to continue as well.

    • ABC has clear left bias…

      In saying that – do they want to destroy this housing market????

      • Indeed! Realty should stay detached from reality. What have the young uns done to EARN a fair go?

      • Shut up RT.

        Four independent studies have proven that the ABC has centre lightly right leaning tilt. Four times it has been proven not to be left leaning.

        I get so tired and bored when shallow minded tea baggers keeping spurting out this old lie.

        And it IS a lie, one which I will call you out for each time you, or anyone else does it.

      • Great idea RT. Media should be censored. Reporting of unpalatable facts, especially those with deleterious consequences, will not be tolerated.

      • Without the ABC and SBS would there be anything worth watching on TV? Serious question for 3d and RT. It may be left-leaning but the quality is in a different league to the commercials. e.g. The Verdict.

        P.S. 3d, don’t say “Sky News”.

      • Unfortunately, you do have a point. Although the difference between SBS and Al Jazeera (with massive bias) is sometimes slim.

        But I have seen clear bias, it is what it is… its not main stream, and is why ABC, and even SBS is losing ground with mainstream public. If they keep up that agenda, their whole purpose and existence will be in question.

        Look, its a common complain, BBC in the UK is massively biased to the left (even left of middle Labour, as per complaints by Gordon Brown and Tony Blair), and makes no apology. But the tax payers do have the right to question why they should continue to fund something if they don’t agree with.

      • But I have seen clear bias, […]

        Cite it.

        Look, its a common complain, […]

        Indeed it is. It’s a very rare demonstration, however.

        […] BBC in the UK is massively biased to the left (even left of middle Labour, as per complaints by Gordon Brown and Tony Blair), […]

        So centre-right, then.

  2. “One wonders how long the Australian Government can continue to ignore this issue.”

    As long as people not on’y don’t care, but cheer and depend on rising house prices. In short, a whole lot longer.

    • +1
      Proceeds of crime are lining every property owners pocket. It needs to be made clear and accepted culturally that higher property prices are at the next persons detriment and all boats rise & fall with the tide.

      • Lining the pockets of vendors and indebting buyers through setting higher prices at the margin for every body else. It’s a distortion to the entire market and is effectively destroying the purchasing power of wages vis a vis houses.

    • +100. Australians still have that dirty little brain bug that tells them that high house prices are good. While this persists, nothing will improve.

  3. Its not just funds from Chinese illicit money – it is illicit money from terrorists and terrorism funding.

    If not – prove it.

  4. i want to see the reaction from malcolm et al who have allowed this to happen

    i want to see direct questions about this

    this infuriates me

    how dare a basic commodity like a home be treated like the stock exchange

    all pollies, rba, firb etc who have allowed this should pay dearly for this with the crime of treason

    • dan
      We need to recognise that this is just another necessary and predictable step in the economic policy (and education) progression that has now been going on for 60 damned years.
      We’ve wanted it and we’ve voted for it!

      • Dan,

        The wellspring for this is the economic schools which gave validity to policy advocy, which is highlighted by the corporatist that funded these schools.

        Flawse,

        Put down rational agent model, that’s a huge part of the problem.

  5. Can anyone give me one sensible reason why Real Estate transactions have been specifically excluded from the AML laws?

    The sham continues

    • I seem to recall that real estate was included in FATF’s list of transactions to be covered, but for some reason Australia put off its inclusion in AMLCTF to the second round of legislation – looks like it never happened…

  6. Look! We HAVE to HAVE this money! Without it the economy collapses.

    Is there a loop here which allows us to postpone any serious reform…of course there is! But undserstand quite clearly any disruption to teh flow of foreign capital pouring in here to cover our CAD is going to have serious implications for our standard of living – particularly in Sydney and Melbourne. – no government could survive it!

    • Summed up beautifully in that one senetence “Where the money came from is somebody else’s responsibility,”

    • the federal election next year is going to be cracker. Look for far right and nationalist parties to make inroads and perhaps even win seats. The erosion of the welfare state is fracturing the politico system. 5 prime ministers in the last seven years says it all – Australia is broken.

      • Yep and i’d expect that cycle to accelerate rather than slow down…except for the fact that it is nearly impossible for Labor to change leaders?
        One day the process will stop and we will vote in a PERMANENT leader!

      • Flawse we already have a permanent leader…. its call the… MARKET

        Skippy…. freedom and liberty tm….

    • political narrative is getting close to the point where it will be OK to reinstate slavery to avoid a recession. All, off course, in the name of greater good for the greater number of people – perfect use for flawed utilitarian idea. This is very bad sign because over the last two centuries there were countless dictatorships using utilitarianism to justify their political decisions.

  7. lukehowardMEMBER

    There was a preview on NewsRadio this morning where the producer suggested that in spite of this it had only had a marginal effect on house prices.

      • “NewsRadio this morning where the producer suggested that in spite of this it had only had a marginal effect on house prices.”

        Bwahahahahaaaaa!!!!! I see reported elsewhere that the money coming in from overseas for RE investment was $75B in 2013-4. Now I’m not sure if this included official channels like banks for lending but to think that this foreign money, one form and another, is not affecting house prices is ludicrous.
        Also not this was only for Real estate and does not include the amount coming in to buy Mines, Farms and core businesses. No wonder the A$ was on a tear!!!!

      • the producer must have some data to make that bold claim. Where is the data?
        A comparison between this week’s and last week’s auction prices shows little increase in price.

        Data is easy to find. Brains to interpret data – not so easy to find.

    • The producer might be smart enough to know that if we want the government to impose sensible regulation of unproductive and possibly corrupt capital inflows the last thing anyone should be doing is trying to panic pollies with loose talk about a threat to their precious bubble!

      The issue is straight forward.

      Capital inflows are no different to movements of animals, plants and people across the borders. Feral capital that is unproductive and/or the product of criminal enterprise should be turned away at the borders (though it may be difficult to assess the latter)

      Good to see some recognition of the farce that is allowing temporary resident “students” to buy existing property. Especially without any clearly defined mechanism for systematically forcing divestiture 3 months after departure.

      Much simpler to limit any well heeled candidate for a Bachelor Degree in Hairdressing to renting from our world leading landlord army or buying a new property.

      Looking forward to the ALP and the Greens hammering the govt on this issue (provided they are willing to tell “old race baiter” Mr Robb to take his ‘race card’ hysteria and place it where the sun rarely reaches).

      Once the public has even a sniff of the rotten state of our capital inflows border non-protection farce the govt will be forced to act.

    • Was that coming from the same idiots who – based on FIRB figures – concluded that only 2% of housing is currently being bought by Chinese? The vast majority of purchases don’t even get reported to FIRB, and (except for Queensland) there is no registry of foreign ownership, so the official figures are complete nonsense anyway. You only have to look at the huge prices being paid in areas popular with Chinese buyers – last week I heard about a development in Chatswood with 2-br units selling for 1.5M !

  8. I imagine it would be very complicated for Australian public servants to determine the legitimacy of the source of funding for every foreign persons property purchase transaction. There’s enough difficulty identifying money laundering on home soil.

      • Why would we do that? The Chinese authorities did release names of individuals it believed had been involved illegal activities, requesting other nations to advise if these individuals presented in their countries. Firstly, I would be very hesitant to act on the initial Chinese request. Secondly, I would not interfere in the lives of individuals wishing to purchase property here by voluntarily submitting information to the Chinese authorities, particularly when not requested.

      • Can’t say I’m overly enamoured of whole anti money laundering thing. Subject to varying judicial interpretation, potentially invasive, bulk of it goes untouched. A lot of palaver for little profit. Once it’s ‘clean’, it’s clean.

      • Yes 3D but the characters that come with it aren’t. Isn’t the whole point of AML legislation to keep criminals out of the country?

      • Can’t say I’m overly enamoured of whole anti money laundering thing.
        So your basically pro-crime, pro-terrorism, pro-people smuggling etc etc.

        Figures.

      • Oh, look. 3D is wrong about everything. Yet again. Basically, if minebot recommends a policy, then do the opposite.

        3D.. what are you doing commenting about housing policy? Has your employer changed from the dirt sector to the generally corrupt real estate sector?

      • You don’t read what 3d1k actually writes

        On the contrary. We *do* read what he writes. That’s why we understand he’s a morally and ethically bankrupt footsoldier of the people who have made the world we live in today and would happily see the entire country bankrupted if it served his masters.

        You keep talking about dictatorships and war ? He’ll be one of those people telling you it’s for your own good.

      • As I have said before, it is a question of scale. If someone obtains $10M illegally, the Chinese Government will go to the trouble of informing other nations, actively pursuing them, tracking their transactions, and eventually putting them in jail. If it is only $2M (which is the far more common situation) then the Government will not bother to actively pursue or seek to imprison someone for this relatively small amount of money. But, if they find out about it, they are quite likely to confiscate the money.

    • Yes – the main thing is to require appropriate records to be maintained so when Constable Plod from off shore comes knocking we are able to assist him with his enquiries.

      The main thing is simply to do what is bleedingly obvious – require proper identification and registration of the legal owner and status of the owner when key assets (i.e. land) are registered.

      Once registration and transfers of title are strapped up the matching of title records to Border Force records will be relatively simple.

    • True. A good thing the rules on purchasing existing properties are clear cut and simple for the ATO to police. It is just a question of political will.

    • Why?
      The onus should be on the purchaser to proves the funds are legit in any case. If the purchaser can’t do that, they shouldn’t be able to purchase.

      • I am talking retrospectively. There are billions of dollars worth of properties to be sold back to the Australian public.

        It is just a matter of time before TFN being a prerequisite to property purchases. ATO matching software will take care of the rest. Anyone planning to buy a property on behalf of a “friend” will be in for a rude shock when ATO start taxing and fining undeclared incomes.

      • Sorry – was replying to this rubbish from 3d1k:

        I imagine it would be very complicated for Australian public servants to determine the legitimacy of the source of funding for every foreign persons property purchase transaction.

        Seems dubious, and even if it were true, the obvious answer is to make it foreign purchases of real property a rare event.

      • Freddy thats a simple and elegant solution.

        The TFN would allow the ATO (whom FIRB is now run by) to follow the money. The tax consequences for “friends” would be to high for them to volunteer and at least half of the problem would go away.

        Brilliant.

    • Astro turfers should stick to astro turfing… there are several off-the-shelf software products which can do the job. Pollies just have to pass the law..

      • Off the shelf product that determines the legitimacy of funds? Thru myriad financial transactions, ghost and shell companies after, of course, establishing funds sourced from illicit activity. I’m impressed. It is obviously rarely used. Someone tell law enforcement.

    • The Chinese are onto it

      BEIJING (Reuters) – China repatriated a corruption suspect on its list of top 100 fugitives, state-owned Xinhua news agency reported.

      China’s Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI) said on Sunday that Chinese police had captured former banking official Zhan Zaisheng in Malaysia, according to Xinhua.

      He was transferred back to the mainland during the weeklong National Day holiday, which ended on Oct. 7, Xinhua reported.

      Zhan had profited from illegally raised funds involving more than 680 million yuan ($107 million), Xinhua said, citing other state media.

      He is thought to be the 13th fugitive captured on a list of the top 100 most-wanted fugitives abroad released in April, the official news service said.

      The government launched operation “Fox Hunt” to go after suspects who left China seeking refuge abroad, often taking large sums of money with them.

      The operation is part of a campaign to stamp out pervasive corruption began by President Xi Jinping after he assumed power in 2013.

      http://in.mobile.reuters.com/article/idINKCN0S50BS20151011?irpc=932

  9. FIRB still asleep at the wheel.
    Brian Wilson still asleep in the chair.
    Kelly O’Dwyer still does not know how many Australian dwellings are owned by foreign nationals.
    A foreign national can still register the transfer of title of an unapproved and illegal purchase of an existing Australian dwelling in the land title registry without proof of FIRB approval.
    The sham continues.

    • And the beatings will continue until morale improves!

      Set the PVR to record this show so I don’t miss it.

  10. this is Australia summed up

    “Where the money came from is somebody else’s responsibility,” he said…

    and if ya don’t like it leave

    • Yeah, This is what we should teach our kids too: Pretend you didn’t know. If you’re ever questioned, blame someone else. Great advise.

    • “Where the money came from is somebody else’s responsibility,”
      What Chris Miles from the FIRB should have said is, “Where the money came from is NOBODY’S responsibility.

  11. “It’s time for the Government to stop its willful neglect and put the clamp on corrupt money gushing into Australia’s homes”
    I love to see similar wishful neglect on unpaid bills or traffic tickets. Australians deserve to receive what illegal chinese buyers are offered, even if it was on a much smaller scale.

  12. “So nearly three years after the Second Tranche was mooted what we are left with is half an AML/CTF regime and a virtual roadmap for criminals and terrorists as to which industries they should target.”

    That was written five years ago.

    The SMH called the Minister for Justice to get an update last week. Here is the response, from “a spokesperson from the Attorney-General’s Department”.
    “The Government will consider the recommendations in the review in consultation with industry and other government agencies.”
    The short story is that the Minister is waiting on a report, whose arrival has been delayed again, which will be tabled in parliament then put out for discussion with “stakeholders”. For the latter, read “hordes of rent-seekers” – peak bodies for property spruikers, lawyers, accountants and the likes – who will furiously lobby against the bits they don’t like and put off any meaningful reform ad infinitum.

    The sham continues

    • Does anyone else interpret the continued delay of this legislation as facilitation of immense scale money laundering? All care and no responsibility. Grrrrrrrrrrrrrr!!!

      • I did not exclude the incompetence (or worse) of his predecessors
        Brandis can fix it now and chooses not to.

      • Most of the Australian polity consists of disengaged old fat white men with no interest in the future, aside from maintaining their obscene entitlements.

        The only way to fix this is to allow its natural collapse. Which is coming by 2017.

      • Most developed nations governments are beholden to the wealthy upper quintile through a plethora of access points be it political donations, think tanks, networking, charitable trusts, et al.

        Skippy… Loard dud will like this…. the actual United States wealth distribution plotted against the estimated and ideal distributions – https://imgur.com/a/FShfb

      • [email protected]: I will agree that US income distribution is broken… but it presents no problem with the external account, or attracting skilled workers from around the world to high value industries. Australia is a total fail by both these metrics. As flawse says, the external account is where Australia will be hammered. Oz might achieve minimal house price falls… at the expense of huge real declines in spending power. This is what I’m betting on; all my net worth is in USD.

      • It’s no problem to the US external account because they are the Reserve Currency…..until it IS a problem. One can see this in housing affordability complaints coming out of the US that are the result of widespread Chinese buying. These sorts of problems are going to increase not decrease.
        In just about everything like this it all goes on until thee is catastrophic collapse. I don’t think that will be in the next couple of years (and I am crap at timing!) but it is in the future (unless of course there is very large change in US philosophy)

      • Dud…

        On one hand you acknowledge the results ideological driven economics has wrought, but, in the same statement use one of the aforementioned stripes tools as a bright spot – “attracting skilled workers from around the world to high value industries” – when quite the opposite is true.

        Bringing in scab labour was a major part in breaking the distribution both as a equity’s and bonus multiplier.

        Skippy…. the results are staring you right in the face… just look at the preznit race… you have a year of that mental chalk… enjoy -!!!!!!

      • Wealth, Income, and Power
        by G. William Domhoff

        This document presents details on the wealth and income distributions in the United States, and explains how we use these two distributions as power indicators. The most striking numbers on income inequality will come last, showing the dramatic change in the ratio of the average CEO’s paycheck to that of the average factory worker over the past 40 years.

        http://www2.ucsc.edu/whorulesamerica/power/wealth.html

      • @skip,

        I understand that LD works in IT in some form or other –

        “attracting skilled workers from around the world to high value industries” – when quite the opposite is true.

        Are you really suggesting that the US is not a highly attractive destination for talented software engineers with stars in their eyes, regardless of whether they have overlooked some of the cons of such a move?
        Is there somewhere in the world likely to be more attractive to such (if there really is, maybe I’ll relocate)?
        As far as I can make out, for every Trump in the USA there is at least one Peter Norvig (or possibly a Terry Tao), and anyone in the (relevant) field would give up quite a lot for a chance to work with him or someone of equivalent calibre similar to the chance of winning 1st division Tattslotto.

      • StatSailor I don’t see how your comment is germane to the historical evidence nor the data and resulting out comes.

        America’s Poverty Problem Hasn’t Changed

        The only thing that has is one of the ways the Census Bureau chooses to measure it.
        Jessica Rinaldi / Reuters

        On Wednesday, the Census Bureau released its latest data on income and poverty for the country, and despite a falling unemployment rate and a rising GDP—two promising macroeconomic signs—things haven’t improved all that much for American families in the past year.
        More From
        In 2014, median household income was reported as $53,657—statistically the same as it was in 2013. The same stagnation held when it came to the poverty rate, with about 14.9 percent of Americans, or almost 47 million people, falling below the poverty threshold of about $24,000 for the year.

        The news was, of course, worse for minorities and women. The rate of poverty among blacks and Hispanics was well over 20 percent. Women, too, remained more likely to struggle to make ends meet, especially elderly women, whose poverty rate was nearly double that of men in the 75 and older age group. And though more women than ever are participating in the workforce, with 61 percent of women employed full time in 2014, their earnings remained about 79 percent of their male colleagues.

        http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2015/09/americas-poverty-problem/405700/

        Good to see the billionaire – squillonaire demographic is still going parabolic, 536 after a slight bump due to the GFC and went down under 500+.

        Skippy…. good to see someone that goes by the moniker statsailor resort to anecdotal in the form of questioning rhetorical plea.

      • @skip,

        That whooshing sound would be the point.

        Let us stipulate – income inequality in the USA is awful and getting worse, and poverty, especially among minorities is seemingly intractable.

        But that has zero or close to zero bearing on how and why people from small countries such as Australia move to the US.

        Terry Tao is the most talented mathematician born on Australian soil, and nearly the most talented mathematician alive. He completed pre-doctoral studies here, and left for the US before the ink was dry on his testamur.

        He takes a great deal of interest in promoting and supporting Australian mathematics, and his family remain here. yet he is staying resolutely in the USA, basically because if you’re close to the top of your field in STEM in Austalia there’s nothing for you here.Similarly Anthony Goldbloom and Jeremy Howard. (none of these blokes, especially Tao, are close to being a squillionaire btw).

        It’s not (just) about the money.

        Welcome to the cultural cringe 2.0, rebooted for the 21st century, which LD is determined to embody.

        Btw interesting that you criticise for lack of data on skilled workers, but bring none of your own, and can’t be bothered to attempt a definition of what ‘skilled worker in high value industry’ might mean to allow such data’s existence .

        In the event you are vaguely interested in debating my contention, let me state it simply -‘The actual state of income distribution in the USA is of very little concern to people wishing to move there because they believe they are highly talented and that their opportunities are limited in their home country. Also, from the USA side, it doesn’t matter if the vast majority are disappointed in their search for superstardom (as they surely are), because the USA still gets pick of the litter (countless millions of rock bands and aspiring actors have failed in the USA, without dissuading future countless millions)’

      • Stat so your for HB1 type of employment, because corporations have hived off all training and R&D to cheaper country’s -????

        Skippy…. what like “skilled” meant to Carnegie – ???? – he had to take an oversea trip to remove himself from the vapors – !!!!

      • “Btw interesting that you criticise for lack of data on skilled workers, but bring none of your own”

        Naked Capitalism hasn’t written on it yet.

      • @skip,

        Am I for H1-B visas? No, totally opposed, and more generally opposed on ethical grounds to schemes that allow rich(er) countries to steal valuable skilled workers from poor(er) countries.

        Not that it is of any relevance to what I was saying…

        (except that the popularity of this kind of employment arrangement among Asian IT professionals somewhat supports LD’s contention that the USA remains a highly desirable destination for migrant workers in his stated field)

      • Well Stat, so now its narrowed down to Asians from an IT background, vindicate an anecdotal gross generalization, ummm.

        Rich country’s stealing skilled labour from poor country’s…. that’s a new one… Kudos – !!!!

        RP glad you had the time from bootlicking to make that astute comment.

        Skippy…. Americas numoro uno export for some time now is media entertainment… some call it propaganda… like Carlin said… you have to be asleep to live the dream…

      • @skip,

        I narrowed to IT four hours ago in my first sentence. Actually when I used the phrase “talented software engineer” I would have thought I was talking about an even narrower group of people.
        Throughout this discussion I’ve made repeated references to what I assume LDs frame of reference is so it’s disappointing you’ve only noticed on something like the third or fourth time around.

      • Stat,

        Noticed it the first time, yet it had nothing to do with the information I proffered. The reduction to a sector and then of an ethnic group is absurd in comparison.

      • LD says “highly educated Australians with excellent resumes may be enticed to look for a high flying job in the US” and you counter with “LD is wrong because people with limited education and no work history from ethnic groups likely to suffer discrimination have a poor outlook for finding a job” and you call me absurd? You’re not even wrong.

        Your noticing in the first instance and piling on massive quantities of extra noise just makes it worse.

      • LD stuck his finger in the air…

        I’ve have friends, relatives, and ex business associates in all over the states wondering WTF is next, not to mention deteriorating social goodwill. Now to top that off I’ve had some Oz’e high grade investor sorts, that own stuff in America, telling me not to let my oldest daughter go over to stay with an old school chum, instead of going to schooles here, too dangerous.

        Skippy… same shtick with Texas…. come on in…. the waters fine…. selling ones book is more like it…

      • If your gig is warning kids off the American ruse that’s cool…but you can’t do it without acknowledging what’s attractive about the US to already highly privileged people that LD purports to be talking to or about (and if those aren’t (among) the people you’re trying to dissuade LD isn’t the right guy to argue with)

      • The Plural of Anecdotal is not fact. I presented granular observations by several sources and all I got was yours and LD personal opinions.

        Skippy… your and LD equivocations aside, I’ll take my personal experience and that of those I trust over the two of yous. Although… what are you doing, get going and live the dream mate.

  13. There is social damage not just to prospective buyers but also to the renters from the landlords who pay and service overpriced property with little competition from cheaper housing and increased overheads for business and fewer jobs through higher land costs. It hits the poor very hard.

    • It does hit the poor very hard but don’t expect that to be reason enough for the government to do anything to change the status quo. In fact, don’t expect anything much to change after this report. There will be a bit of an outcry but everyone will be silenced with the “racist” card, and we’ll continue on our merry (for some) way.

  14. “Another former board member, Chris Miles, told Four Corners FIRB did not concern itself with identifying the true source of funds from offshore.

    “Where the money came from is somebody else’s responsibility,” he said…”

    A completely weird statement, given how much space the Foreign Takeovers Act devotes to the importance and method of doing just that.

  15. Proceeds of corrupt practices have been know and encouraged through neglect by regulators for decades. The practice extends to nearly all other Asian neighbours not only China. Look no further than Australia’s nearest neighbour to the north. On a per capita basis probably the worst offender.

    Its all geared to keeping a rent seeking economy going without addressing real reform to enhance productivity and innovation. Go Straya!!

  16. Don’t worry about the future generations….. young people just need to get a good job, to get a house… if people are still buying houses they’re affordable……….yolo #liberallyf-ImisstonyandJoe

    • Future generations will leave if not already leaving especially the well educated and informed. Leaving the country with the less skilled sheep minded crowd fighting each other for dog bones. I see Australia’s future if no actions or reforms in sight a very deserted(intellectually) place that nobody wants to visit or live. I also see the future generations will stone Asian landlords (also asian bosses as they are buying businesses as well) in the streets calling them occupiers, invaders…etc. You know corruption is not only short sighted but also a great demolition tool for social fabrics and harmonies. I am telling my kids to “LEAVE US TO ROT”

      • So we’re going to end up looking like PNG where the ethnic Chinese have owned most of the commerce for ages and the locals riot every 15-20 years and burn them down…and nothing changes

      • You know I’m sitting in Chicago this week, over here for work and I’m starting to question if I should not just move to the US instead of aspiring to live and buy my own house in Australia.

        At least over here I have a chance, despite relatively high prices in certain areas. Maybe Australia can be renamed “Disneyland for the Chinese Super Wealthy”?

  17. Nothing will happen on this until

    Karl Stefanovic is spluttering about it
    Bolt et al are
    Faine et al

    4 Corners is too niche (i.e. people who give a sh$t, educated people)

    • Well champ – you nailed it! Seriously… like MB…….. this isn’t the Telegraph (kids paper)….. unless someone says something on “The Block”… or “Master Chef”…… most strayans don’t care….

      Sit back and watch the idiocracy unfold 😛

    • But who says our government wants to fix the problem? Who even says they see it as a problem in the first place?

  18. Why do we care where this money comes from? It is a free gift to Australian asset owners. If it doesn’t come here it will just go somewhere else.

  19. 4 Corners seems to be the only investigative reporting in Australia.

    Its improved dramatically when Kerry O’Brien took it over. My only hope is that he trains a new generation to continue in his high standards.

  20. Why Australia would not stop money laundering into RE with the same vigor it exhibits in stopping refugee boats?
    The only logical answer is because Australia DOES NOT want to stop money laundering into RE. Not in the past, not now and not in the future. Let’s stop fooling ourselves.. remains a puzzle to me how we’re number 2 in the world in the human development index.

  21. I don’t think I have the stomach to watch tonight. Seriously, what’s going to come out of it? They’ll say that the rules are going to be tightened, that is, unless Joe Hockey’s new laws have been overruled with the new government. In fact, isn’t Labor already jumping up and down about the forthcoming tightening of the laws, with the race card?

    As we already know, the FIRB will pass the buck, not that monitoring illegal purchases was part of their jurisdiction anyway. (I’d still like to know what we are paying these useless SOB’s for.) And of course there will be the shock horror statement that nobody has been monitoring any of this money-laundering, ever.

    And what will come of it? Perhaps another inquiry, which of course means nothing will be done. Or perhaps not, but either way, nothing will change. They’ll say it’s all too hard.

    And the one thing that will be made patently clear is that foreign investment is WELCOMED here and all the so-called advantages and benefits, along with carefully scripted lines to not make us appear racist in any way.

    It will be all too depressing to watch.

    • A Four Corners report was instrumental in ending the Bjelke Petersen government after two decades of gross corruption so there is at least a faint glimmer of hope.

    • Some old geezer (previously I think) from the FIRB admitted that where the money comes from “is not our responsibility”, or words to that effect. Least he was honest.

  22. Well I’ve got to say I thought that 4 Corners report was about the worst 4 Corners I have ever seen……

    It got lost in the story and instead of sticking with money coming in, how it gets here and what it does drifted off into the nebulous world of Chinese police spying on Chinese (and former Chinese) nationals here.

    A bit part chase of some putative chinese corruption beneficiary in melbourne and a cafe owner in Sydney (whom I thought did a good job of standing and delivering in response to questions) and tears from a businessman who had been attempted to be bribed.

    Questions/issues it didnt even try to lay a glove on include.

    How it is that the volumes of money get out of china (given ostensible capital controls in China limiting the capital departing the country)?

    The effect that the money is having in Australia (at a general economic level) as well as in particular the real estate market.

    The integration of corporate entities here in Australia – Accountants, lawyers, investment banks & real estate agents – in facilitating that cash coming to Australia and departing China, as well as the role of these in dissuading analysis of how significant the phenomena.

    How it is that banks will structure the ‘investment’ required to apply for a Special Investor visa here and lend the money back to the individual applying for the SIV.

    How difficult would it have been to turn up at an auction (though no doubt there would have been significant pressure not to do so) and ask a successful bidder if they had FIRB approval or where they got their money from?.

    How difficult to ask a few real estate agents how many of their buyers were Chinese nationals? or how significant the Chinese buyer was in shaping prices?

    How difficult to ask State government and local government officials the same types of questions as well as about the intricacies in providing services in locations where maybe only 10% of buildings are actually inhabited?

    All in all a rather feeble report from 4 Corners (and i had thought they would come up with something good)

  23. Bit of a dud?

    Lots of glamour shots of harbour mansions, bentleys and designer labels. Not a lot of hard questions about the origins of the “wall of money”.

    Hard to see that having the same impact as the aforementioned Bjielke-Peterson Four Corners episode.

  24. Gotta agree with you Gunna…. that was really ordinary. Easily the best show on TV (I’ve even got my wife into it!) but a bit of a letdown tonight. Maybe Leith knew ahead of time, and ‘wet’ wasn’t a typo, but rather a stealthy clue to not even bother. Didn’t stack up against greyhound livebaiting, underpaid foreign workers on our fruit farms or escape from ISIS, amongst plenty of gems this year.