Govt claims massive scalp in foreign buyer crackdown

The federal government has ordered a foreign investor to offload the $39 million Sydney mansion it “illegally” purchased last year.

Treasurer Joe Hockey announced yesterday that Golden Fast Foods now had 90 days to sell the Point Piper property, which it bought through LJ Hooker Double Bay and Christie's International in November.

“The property was bought illegally by Golden Fast Foods – which is ultimately owned by Evergrande Real Estate Group, a large company listed on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange – via a string of shell companies, including in Australia, Hong Kong and the British Virgin Islands,” Mr Hockey said.

“Under the Foreign Acquisitions and Takeovers Act 1975, foreign investors must notify the treasurer through the Foreign Investment Review Board (FIRB) before purchasing residential real estate. Golden Fast Foods is a foreign-owned company which failed to notify FIRB of its intended purchase.”

The mansion features six bedrooms, eight bathrooms and sits on 1,508 square metres, according to its listing from last year.

Mr Hockey said he made the divestment order following advice from the Australian government solicitor. Golden Fast Foods has 90 days to dispose of the property or the matter may be referred to the Commonwealth Department of Public Prosecutions, Mr Hockey said.

“We welcome all foreign investment that is not contrary to our national interest,” he said. “Under Australia’s foreign investment policy, foreign investment should increase Australia’s housing stock.

“Non-resident foreign nationals cannot buy established dwellings as homes or investments.” Meanwhile, the Property Council of Australia’s chief executive, Ken Morrison, has criticised the federal government’s plans to introduce fees on foreign investment applications.

“What is Australia’s policy on foreign investment? The federal government can’t seem to make up its mind,” Mr Morrison said in a statement, which preceded Mr Hockey’s announcement.

“They are saying that Australia is open for business and welcomes investment in new housing construction, while at the same time slapping a new tax on foreign investment on the housing supply they want to encourage.” Mr Morrison said the fees would reduce buyer numbers and housing supply, thereby placing upward pressure on property prices. 

[Related: Agents threatened with jail in foreign buyer crackdown]

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