Government targets illegal investors, orders sale of properties

The federal government has today targeted the illegal acquisition of a further eight properties by foreign investors, ordering their immediate sale.

The directive was made under recently approved changes to foreign investment rules, which Treasurer Scott Morrison said ensures “those who break the rules, or assist others to break the rules, are adequately detected and punished.

“The Government is committed to enforcing our rules so that foreign nationals illegally holding Australian property are identified by authorities and their illegal holdings relinquished,” Mr Morrison said.

Penalties now apply to all foreign investors who illegally acquire properties, as well as those who assist them.

“Illegal real estate purchases by foreign citizens attract criminal penalties of $135,000 or three years’ imprisonment, or both for individuals; and up to $675,000 for companies. The new rules also allow capital gains made on illegal investments to be forfeited,” Mr Morrison said.

The properties at the centre of today’s divestment order were purchased in Victoria, Queensland and New South Wales for prices ranging from $200,000 to $5 million.

“The foreign investors either purchased established residential property without Foreign Investment Review Board approval, or had approval but their circumstances changed meaning they were breaking the rules ,” Mr Morrison said.

The changes to foreign investment legislation will form a central component of this year’s compulsory professional development (CPD) program for real estate sales representatives and licensed agents, under the direction of the WA Department of Commerce.

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