Integrity of Significant Investor Visa Scheme in the Spotlight

Pressure is rising to improve how investors are being scrutinized as they try to purchase residency in the country through the significant investot visa scheme after the country of Canada made stricter changes in their application process for its similar scheme.

It is the opinion of experts that Australia is one of the most sought after destinations for corrupt Chinese officials who are trying to escape their own country, and with the recent changes that took place in Canada there are fears that Australia can be the next haven for white collar criminals.

It was also just recently revealed that the former Chinese utility State Grid chief was also in hiding in Australia with millions of dollars that he stole from the very same company. Investigators from China were able to identify around 6 more former officials and executives in state companies that were being accused of embezzlement and brivery, which amounts to around one billion dollars.

There were concerns coming from China regarding the $5 million siginificant investor visa program of the Australian Immigration, the same visa scheme that was recently revamped to give room to the equally controversial $15 million 'premium' investor visa scheme, that it could easily become a path for criminals to run away from the clutches of the Chinese law.

It has already been a big issue in Beijing since June of 2014, when CCTV, the state broadcaster, accused Bank of China of laundering money in Australia. The report which has since been taken off from all websites, also said that Australia was a possible destination for what is termed as ''grey money'' coming out of China through the SIV program.

Under the changes to the Canadian visa scheme, forensic accountants in private sectors are going to be investigating if applicants are either ''politically exposed'' are have a criminal past.

It all comes after the China government made moves so that hundreds of corrupt officials – who ran away from China to Canada, Australia, and other developed countries, taking with them millions of dollars worth of state funds – can finally be trapped and answer to the crimes they made.

The integrity of the visa program has been defended by no other than Mr. Andrew Robb, the minister for Trade and Investment. This visa scheme has been administered by the Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP), and Mr. Robb said that to his knowledge, there still has not been any problem with this particular scheme since it was started.

He also stated that the authorities of the Australian immigration would be the ones to voluntarily refer cases to Chinese police if any irregularities or improprieties were discovered while the mandatory security and character screening process were being done.

''If there is any suggestion that a person has accumulated wealth through illegitimate means, all materials are referred to local authorities in the source countries; in the case of China, to the Chinese police,'' stated the Trade andInvestment minister.

As well as being a popular way for corrupt officials to escape, the SIV has also been used as a means by unscrupulous operators in Australia to entice mainland Chinese investors into different Australian projects that have gone awry.

Sources also revealed that investors in a collapsed golf development placed money thinking that it would give a move on to their SIV application. However, they lost out in the end when the venture failed altogether. Investing in a golf course is not going to fall in the narrow range of funds that have already been approved for SIV visa applicants, which should be placed into government bonds or other equal securities.

Nearly all individuals who have submitted an application for SIVs come from China. Under the rules of SIV, applicants should first have the means to deposit $5 million into approved investments for a period of 4 years prior to submitting an application for permanent residency. Meanwhile, under the premium investor visa, with a minimum investment of $15 million, this is narrowed down to only one year.  

Source: TheAustralian.com.au

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