Coalition money laundering visas strand Australians overseas

Fairfax reports that while tens-of-thousands of Australians remain stranded abroad during the pandemic, the Morrison Government has granted nearly 15,000 rich foreigners entry to Australia via the business innovation and investment visa program (BIIP):

  • Nearly 15,000 visas have been granted to foreign millionaires under the controversial business innovation and investment visa schemes.
  • These types of investments can be granted in one of three ways:
    • Under the business innovation stream, applicants must buy or start a business and also have $1.25 million in total net business or personal assets.
    • Under the investor stream, applicants must be nominated by a state or territory agency and spend $2.5 million on qualifying investments.
    • Under the significant investor stream, applicants must invest $5 million, with at least $1 million in venture capital or private equity.
  • The Morrison Government last year removed the requirement for people holding a business innovation and investment visa, whether permanent or provisional, to apply for a travel exemption.
  • Labor spokesman Andrew Giles said the Morrison Government has had “the red carpet rolled out… at the expense of stranded Australians. Under Mr Morrison, if you’ve got money, you can buy a visa to come into Australia while everyone else is left behind”.

The Productivity Commission (PC) called for these types of visas to be axed, noting they are conduits for money laundering and ‘dirty money’:

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.

The Grattan Institute recently also raised concerns about these visas and called for their abolition:

Most BIIP immigrants buy established businesses in retail and hospitality, which together with their age, and generally poor skills, and lack of English proficiency, means they are not adding materially to Australia’s innovative and entrepreneurial capacity.

People offered permanent residency through these visa categories are older, participate less, have poorer English, and appear to earn smaller incomes than those issued with permanent visas via the points-test or employer sponsorship…

The BIIP should be abolished, and those visas reallocated to skilled workers.

Another recent report published in The AFR also noted that migration agents have concocted “non-genuine” applications for wealthy Chinese investors to gain SIVs.

These BIIP visas are often marketed by migration agents to wealthy investors seeking multiple residencies and tax regimes:

For these reasons, the United Kingdom in 2018 abolished their version of BIIP visas because they were being used for money laundering purposes and were not providing net public benefits.

Thus, the Morrison Government has endorsed a visa program where Australian citizenship is for sale to almost anybody with enough money to pay. There are few questions asked. There are minimal background checks on the applicants or the sources of their funds. There is no requirement to actually speak English. And there is no requirement for these visa holders to work or contribute to Australian society.

The fact that these visa holders are also taking the place of Australian citizens desperate to return home is an outright disgrace and shows the corruption flowing through the Morrison Government.

Unconventional Economist
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  1. The complaints from Labor are just carefully rationed crocodile tears. Both sides of politics are 100% committed to a fast reboot of mass migration, and they couldn’t care less if that makes visa priorities and processing more corrupt than ever.

  2. An accountant once told me how much money you could make managing the millions that flood in from a good migration agent. That accountant went from zero to being worth tens of millions in a few short years. If only the ATO had the systems and gatekeepers enforcing local and international money laundering laws…..

  3. C'est de la folieMEMBER

    Think of it this way.  There are 30 thousand plus Australians ‘registered’ as being stranded outside Australia looking for support to get back to Australia.  The average Australian seat in Federal parliament is about 110 thousand.  There were circa 45 seats after the 2019 election held by less than 5% and 6 by less than 1% – Bass (TAS) Chisholm (VIC) Macquarie (NSW) Lilley (QLD) Cowan (WA) Eden-Monaro (NSW).

    Then, after thinking of that think that there are very large numbers of Australians offshore, who havent registered as requiring assistance to get home – likely more than 150 thousand, with the High Commission in London reckoning there are more than 100k in the UK and Ireland alone.   

    These people can be (however many they are) expected to vote against the government.  It may not have been all that much but at least the ALP through Penny Wong and Kristina Keneally has been trying to plug into them and get them home (without that much success)..

    They (IMO) would go along with a large number of people very hostile to the current government over the handling of the vaccine rollout.  I don’t think Australia’s mainstream media is touching the the levels of hostility which is out there – over this issue.  My observation is that a fair bit of that hostility comes from people who would ordinarily be pretty baked on LNP voters.  I don’t think they will go and vote ALP – as I think many stranded Australians may do – but my guess is that plenty wouldn’t baulk at denying the government their vote.

    For mine the real question is not whether support for the government collapses between now and the next election (and I think it is already showing signs of doing so) but rather whether that collapse translates into a swing to the ALP.   From there the follow up question is ‘what happens if there is a collapse in government support which doesn’t cross to the ALP?’

    And that is my sort of baseline thinking about where Australia is heading.

    • kierans777MEMBER

      I don’t think they will go and vote ALP – as I think many stranded Australians may do – but my guess is that plenty wouldn’t baulk at denying the government their vote.

      But where do the preferences flow? I don’t care if people don’t Vote 1 Liberal (the correct way to vote according to those purple corflutes). However if the Libs capture the preference flows they’re back in.

      • Clive knows how to do that and just today had a front page ad on the print version of the SMH crying “Freedom” and “You cant trust Liberals or Labor”

    • drsmithyMEMBER

      I am genuinely fascinated by the people who, on the one hand believe that granting greater power to unions and/or industrial relations reform can drives wages growth (through an implicit threat to limit the supply of labour), but an explicit limitation in the supply of labour (less immigration) won’t achieve the same result.

  4. SchillersMEMBER

    All the more reason for independents (who have money and their sh#t together) to run for parliament next year. Especially women.
    There has never been a better time….