It continues unabated despite the promises of a Labor government – money laundering in the Australian property sector. Legions of accountants, lawyers, and real estate agents gladly take overseas money from ill defined sources for property deals around Australia. The recent frenzy of high end real estate purchases from Chinese investors in Melbourne and Sydney highlights this. Australia, with its tax free status on the family home, has become a haven for those wishing to stash millions of dollars in this way. Lax laws around identifying the sources of the funds being funnelled into property investment makes this an attractive bolthole for dodgy money.
“The use of real estate is an established method of money laundering internationally (1). Criminals buy high-value goods such as real estate as a way of laundering or concealing illicit funds. AUSTRAC has identified high-value goods, including real estate, to be a significant money laundering channel in Australia (2). Asset confiscation cases show the breadth of criminal investment in high-value goods and the scale of criminal wealth that can be laundered and invested this way.”
Dirty Money Driving Property Prices In Australia
This is driving up the property prices in the capital cities and doing likewise to rents. The Australian property market has become a no go zone for timid governments and politicians, it seems. The runaway inflation fanning sector is at the heart of the domestic economy. There are so many vested interests with their snouts in the trough that timid governments like the current batch are loath to touch it in any meaningful way. Of course, there should be limits on how much tax free money you can have tied up in the family home. How about a $5 million cap?
“Real estate agents, accountants and lawyers are ready to go to war with the Albanese government over a planned expansion of dirty money laws, strongly resisting moves to extend reporting obligations they say threaten client confidentiality.
Australia is among a handful of countries that do not include property, law, tax professionals and precious metal dealers in anti-money laundering protections, and consultation on changes has been under way for months.”
Confidentiality Giving Criminals Cover In Australia
The government tells us that it is still in the consultative phase with stake holders in regard to tightening up money laundering laws in the property sector. This has been going on for a number of years, enough is enough, get on with it please. We are already in a housing crisis and the government seems unable to recognise this. Perhaps, the fact that most of its members are landlords and property owners may have something to do with it. There seems to be a reluctance to take bold action.
Big Bust Reveals Massive Money Laundering In Property Sector
“This is what the Australian Federal Police allege had been going on for years, casting a fresh spotlight on a potential gaping hole in Australia’s anti-money-laundering monitoring — real estate agents, lawyers and accountants, none of whom are obliged to report suspicious transactions.
t will be alleged in court the syndicate laundered $150 million in its own profits, gained from the movement of cash between 2018 and 2022.
Aside from a large collection of luxury goods and cars, it parked the allegedly illicit funds in a prized property portfolio, including 20 addresses across Sydney — with two homes in the eastern suburbs worth a combined $19 million alone — and a $47 million block of land near the future Western Sydney Airport.”
Australia is lax about a lot of things. 10 years of a Coalition government saw growth in transparency lacking arrangements across the board. The slashing of the Australian public service and funnelling billions to private consultants was a major part of this. The PwC tax dodge was just the tip of the ice berg. Robodebt was a horrendous example of the lack of sunlight exposing illegal government activities, which cost lives and $1.8 billion in a settled class action. The Australian property sector has grown bloated on dark money. The accountants, lawyers, and real estate agents feed on the fees extracted from this unmonitored flow of funds from God knows where. Terrorists, bikies, drug dealers, Chinese spies, and paedophile rings are all into money laundering. Those making money from facilitating this money laundering are complicit in the crime. It is time we put a stop to this and stopped being an international joke on this score.
Australia the welcoming home of white collar crime!
Robert Sudha Hamilton is the author of Money Matters: Navigating Credit, Debt, and Financial Freedom.
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