Chinese fight to retain Australian money laundering visas


Australian-Chinese lobby groups are fighting to retain Australia’s Significant Investor Visa (SIV) program – affectionately named “Golden Ticket Visas” – commissioning Deloitte Access Economics to spin positive economic benefits from the scheme.

These visas allow wealthy foreigners to purchase Australian citizenship by investing $5 million into qualifying assets or ventures, and have been used primarily by the Chinese, who have accounted for nearly 90% of SIVs issued:

From The Australian:


John Brumby — the chairman of the Australia China Business Council, which has paid Deloitte to produce the report, ­argues that SIV holders would like to invest more in Australia after achieving permanent residency… more than 2000 visa applicants have contributed just over $10 billion into Australian investments since 2012, according to the report…

Deloitte Private managing partner Andrew Culley, whose business services wealthy individuals, said there was “no doubt” ­significant investor visa holders had the “potential” to significantly contribute to innovation and growth.

“We are confident this SIV group will prove to have a tangible impact on the Australian economy in the longer term,” Mr Culley said.

These types of visas are spruiked widely to wealthy investors seeking multiple residency and tax regimes, as noted last year by investigative reporter Michael West:


In December 2018, the UK Government suspended their equivalent of SIV because of fears it was being used to launder money and brought little economic benefit for citizens:

Ministers are halting a “gold-plated” visa scheme offering foreign investors a fast-track to settling in the UK, as part of a crackdown on financial crime.

Tier 1 investor visas were introduced in 2008 to encourage rich people from outside the EU to invest in the UK.

A £2m investment bought a visa and indefinite leave to remain after five years. But concerns were raised the scheme was being used to launder money.

Its suspension will end after an audit process is introduced, ministers say.

“We will not tolerate people who do not play by the rules and seek to abuse the system,” said Immigration Minister Caroline Nokes, announcing the suspension would come into effect at midnight on Friday.

…the Migration Advisory Committee said the scheme brought little economic benefit for British citizens…

The Productivity Commission (PC) also called for the SIV program to be abolished, claiming that it is “prone to misuse and fraud”, is being used to launder “dirty money” into Australia, and generates “less favourable social impacts than other immigrants”:


Because there are no English-language requirements for the Significant Investor Visa and Premium Investor Visa, and no upper age limits, it is likely that these immigrants will generate less favourable social impacts than other immigrants. Further, compared to other visa streams, investor visas are prone to misuse and fraud. Concerns about visa fraud played a part in the Canadian Government’s decision in 2014 to scrap its investor visa scheme…

There is a risk that SIV and PIV might be used as a pathway for investing ‘dirty money’ in Australia, an issue that has been raised for other similar schemes (Sumption and Hooper 2014)…

Overall, the case for retaining the Significant Investor Visa and Premium Investor Visa streams is weak and the Government should abolish these visas.

Clearly, SIVs should be abolished entirely. There are few checks and balances in place with these visas. There’s no rigorous background checks performed on the person applying or whether the source of their money is legit. And there is no requirement to speak English, work or contribute to society.

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About the author
Leith van Onselen is Chief Economist at the MB Fund and MB Super. He is also a co-founder of MacroBusiness. Leith has previously worked at the Australian Treasury, Victorian Treasury and Goldman Sachs.