Atlas Advisors Australia has wasted no time in using the coronavirus pandemic as an excuse to lobby the Morrison Government to open the floodgates to Significant Investor Visas (SIV) – affectionately known as “Golden Ticket Visas”:
About $100 million could provide a lifeline for start-ups and emerging companies crippled by the coronavirus if applications under the Significant Investor (SIV) program were reopened.
Leading SIV funds manager Atlas Advisors Australia has called on the federal government to reopen approvals and give priority to fast -track urgent applications.
Atlas Advisors executive chairman Guy Hedley said applicants should be able to execute investments while delaying physical stay in Australia until travel restrictions are lifted.
“Reopening approvals under the SIV program would fulfill the program’s original intent to support thin capital markets,” Hedley said.
“Atlas Advisors Australia has allocated more than $40 million to early stage venture capital investors from SIV investors.”
Last year, John Brumby — the chairman of the Australia China Business Council – also demanded that the SIV program be expanded, citing spurious economic benefits:
The Productivity Commission (PC) has previously called for the SIV program to be axed altogether, arguing that SIVs provide minimal if any net economic benefits and likely help fuel fraud and money laundering:
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.
It’s easy to see why. These ‘Golden Ticket Visas’ are touted widely to wealthy investors seeking multiple residencies and tax regimes:
For these reasons, the United Kingdom in 2018 abolished their version of SIVs because they were being used for money laundering purposes and were not providing public benefits:
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…
“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…
Clearly, the Morrison Government should side with the PC, reject Atlas Advisors Australia’s special pleading, and abolish SIVs altogether.