Sep 20, 2016

    Sold: 16 homes bought illegally in Australia


    AUSTRALIA has since May forced the sale of 16 properties bought without government permission by foreigners, Treasurer Scott Morrison said yesterday.

    "Foreign investment provides significant benefits for Australia but we must also ensure that such investment benefits all Australians, is in line with our rules and is not contrary to our national interest," he added.

    Foreigners must seek approval from the government's Foreign Investment Review Board before purchasing property in the country.

    Foreign ownership of land is a sensitive issue in Australia and a flashpoint between Canberra and Beijing in particular.

    Chinese bidders were blocked in April from buying the country's largest farmland holding. Chinese and Hong Kong bidders were barred from buying electricity distributor Ausgrid in August.

    Seven of the 16 forcibly sold properties were owned by Chinese nationals, according to a list issued by the Australian government.

    British nationals owned four, Canadians two, and the remaining three belonged to Malaysian and Papua New Guinean interests.

    The properties sold for a combined A$14 million (S$14.4 million), with the bulk of the proceeds going to the seven Chinese owners.

    The sellers were also fined for breaking purchasing rules.

    Since 2013, Canberra has forced the sale of 46 properties worth A$93 million, mostly held by Chinese interests.