Government calls for informants to dob in dodgy deals

January 7, 2021 BY

The federal government has launched a new “tip off” campaign that urges people to inform on foreigners suspected of illegally purchasing Australian residential real estate according to The Adviser, the leading media brand in the mortgage and finance broking industry.

In their latest post, The Advisor has enlightened readers on Treasurer Josh Frydenberg’s announcement that the federal government is launching a new “tip off and compliance campaign”, which seeks to ensure foreign persons purchasing residential real estate in Australia aren’t breaking foreign investment rules.

It also aims to ensure that those who are breaking the rules “are subject to appropriate penalties”.

Under Australia’s foreign investment framework, foreigners seeking to purchase residential real estate in Australia generally need to apply for approval through the Foreign Investment Review Board (FIRB).

This applies to new dwellings, vacant residential land for development and, in some circumstances, established property. Applications, which come with a fee, need to be approved before foreign persons can purchase residential property.

Strict penalties (including civil and criminal prosecution resulting in large fines or up to three years’ imprisonment) may apply for breaches of Australia’s foreign investment rules.

Kickstarting the new initiative, the Treasurer called on anyone who has “information about someone who may be breaking the foreign investment rules” or anyone who may have “concerns about suspected illegal behaviour and activities by foreign persons relating to their ownership of Australian residential real estate” to make “a confidential tip-off” by calling the Australian Taxation Office’s hotline on 1800 060 062 or completing the online tip-off form.

Mr Frydenberg said that while the majority of foreign investors acted in good faith in complying with the law, Australians expected their government to maintain a high standard of enforcement in order to safeguard Australia’s national interest, businesses and the economy.

“Australia welcomes foreign investment for the significant benefits it provides, but the government will continue to ensure that all Australians can have confidence that their interests are being protected when it comes to foreign investment rules for residential real estate.”

The move follows on from widespread reform and change in the way Australia treats foreign investment.

Earlier this year, the government introduced temporary rules to change the foreign investment review framework in a bid to “protect Australia’s national interest” .

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