Government seizes $14m worth of property from foreign nationals

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Fifteen properties in Victoria and Queensland, worth a combined $14m, have been forcibly sold off in the latest round of divestments triggered by the ATO’s ongoing investigations.

To date, foreign investors have been forced to sell off more than $100m worth of illegally acquired Australian real estate. This brings the total number of forced sales of properties in breach of foreign investment rules to 61. The properties have a combined value of $107m, said Treasurer Scott Morrison.

Morrison said 179 notices were issued in September to foreign investors who broke the law when purchasing property in Australia. These properties were purchased in New South Wales, Queensland, Victoria, and Western Australia, for prices ranging from $200,000 to $2m. The buyers came from the United Kingdom, Malaysia, China, and Canada.

According to Morrison, some “2,200 matters” are currently being reviewed by the Foreign Investment Review Board, with an estimated 400 “remaining under active investigation since the new regime.”

Speaking to Sky News on Monday, Morrison said the residential real estate assets that were illegally acquired by foreigners were not limited to the prestige market, but also encompassed the lower end of the market. This had the unfortunate effect of locking average Australians out of the property market.

Foreign nationals who illegally acquire property are forced to pay a percentage of the value of the home as a “civic penalty.”

“We're trying to ensure, I think with some success, that our foreign investment rules are enforced on every occasion,” Morrison said. “And to those who think they can then creep in and snatch away some property from the hands of Australian homebuyers, well we've got news for you: you'll be forced to sell it
and do that and do that forthwith.”

Related stories:
How Sellers Can Safeguard Themselves When Dealing With Foreign Buyers
Alarm Raised On Illegal Property Purchases By Chinese Investors

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