ATO seeking assistance in obtaining unpaid tax

by Ethan Anderson Last Updated
ATO seeking assistance in obtaining unpaid tax

Chinese billionaire real estate developer Huang Xiangmo is in the sights of the Australian Taxation Office (ATO), where he is alleged to owe $140 million in taxes.

As a result, the luxury One Circular Quay is under jeopardy, which is planned to house 165 luxury apartments in one tower and a 182-room hotel in a second. Sources within the industry said a builder was not likely to be appointed until early next year at the earliest.

Living as an Australian resident since 2011, Huang is allegedly hiding money in offshore bank accounts to avoid paying taxes, according to Casino Aus.

As relayed to the court, the ATO is certain that Huang restructured his finances to avoid obligations related to his Australian-based businesses. He allegedly established a complicated business structure in Australia to avoid creditors, including the ATO. Also, the ATO believes he “grossly understated his income” with the same intentions.

They believe Huang misrepresented his income from 2013 to 2015. He was said to have directly lied about his income and submitted tax returns with “recklessness” according to the ATO documents presented to the court.

The South China Morning Post has stated the ATO filed numerous documents and affidavits with the court in the hopes of garnering some assistance in exposing Huang’s financial holdings and pursuing tax debts.

Senior ATO Officer Yi Deng said, “For example, the commissioner (of taxation) is concerned that the trusts and corporate entities associated with Mr. Huang mask the true level of control Mr. Huang is able to exert over those trusts and corporate entities.”

In addition, the government is concerned that Huang’s wife, Huang Jiefang, along with son and Australian citizen Jimmy Huang have recently left Australia. The government’s concern lies with the belief the pair have access to those secret accounts and don’t intend to return to Australia to settle any debts.

Federal court case commences

In federal court proceedings that commenced in late September, the ATO froze Huang’s assets after slapping him with a $140m tax bill and accused the billionaire, who has close links with both sides of politics, of intentionally setting up complicated business structures in Australia to frustrate the efforts of recovering money from him.

Huang is known to have several ties with casinos, particularly with casino markers and high-stakes gambling. This has resulted in the ATO reaching out to casinos with garnishment notices to collect any monies that might be held with them. Those casinos included The Star in both Sydney and the Gold Coast, Treasury Casino in Brisbane, and Melbourne’s Crown Casino.

These notices led to communications with the casinos, with the records showing two offshore bank accounts connected to Huang’s casino accounts. The ATO is hoping access money through garnishment orders, however this is unlikely without a court judgment.

Casinos are obligated to cooperate with the government, particularly due to anti-money laundering laws. Therefore, they are required to provide certain information to the ATO in the event of it being requested.

Since moving to Australia, Huang has cultivated influence with both sides of politics, donating $2.7m to the Liberal and Labor parties.

He is the CEO of Yuhu Group, a Sydney-based property development company.

Some in Australia have suspected these donations were to influence Australia’s policies on behalf of China, specifically via the Chinese Community Party.

Huang’s permanent residency visa was summarily cancelled last December by the federal government on character grounds which also resulted in his application for Australian citizenship being withdrawn.

Despite being exiled from Australia, Huang has recently re-emerged as a key figure in the Independent Commission Against Corruption’s current investigation into Labor party donations in September.

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