IS this a case of guilt by association? It appears so.
FURTHER, it seems Huang has departed our shores, and if this is so most of those with the smallest amount of desire to see justice done will be wondering how much real effort is being put into getting these people to face up in an Australian court where incidentally justice is also real, or will it be yet another one of those cases of ‘nevermind we tried’
LET’s hope at the very least official seizure of assets has or will take place.
WHY should we allow bad behaviour and lies to be rewarded?
LOOKS like public opinion is being shaped to ignore the truth … those wracking in benefits hoping it will all go away …others in the deep Egyptian River … and the really bad ones among us trying their very best to hide it and other revelations …
A NATIONAL DISGRACE!
Deputy mayor hid $13m stash of property
Nov 8, 2019
The deputy mayor of a Sydney council, who has already been referred to the NSW corruption watchdog, failed to declare nearly $13 million of property-related transactions during his first year in office.
Simon Zhou, who is facing a no-confidence vote at Ryde City Council, also failed to disclose his links with property developers and an ongoing interest in gold trading in breach of his obligations as a councillor.
Simon Zhou, left, with disgraced Chinese billionaire Huang Xiangmo.
The Australian Financial Review has previously reported Mr Zhou’s failure to declare a $4 million financial connection with disgraced Chinese billionaire Huang Xiangmo.
It can also be revealed that Mr Zhou and his mother owned nearly $13 million of assets, in addition to shares in 12 companies, which were not declared on his pecuniary interest statements to Ryde Council.
Mr Zhou, an independent who previously worked for the ALP, declared his only income as the council’s $25,000-a-year stipend.
Mr Zhou’s failure to declare his $4 million link with Mr Huang, via a Sydney office park, has been referred to the NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption. ICAC has not announced if it will investigate.
Ryde mayor Jerome Laxale is facing a vote to keep his job next week. Jeremy Piper
Mr Zhou failed to declare this financial link when Ryde councillors supported a $376 million redevelopment proposal for the Eastwood Plaza, owned by Mr Huang’s Yuhu group.
Mr Huang stood to make a $135 million profit from the planning decision. Mr Zhou did not personally stand to profit from the council decision and absented himself from the vote.
There is no evidence Mr Zhou misused his position on Ryde Council to benefit his property holdings.
Ryde councillors have called an emergency meeting next week to force Mr Zhou and the Labor mayor, Jerome Laxale, to resign following the revelations.
“The rule is, if in doubt, shout,” said Professor Roberta Ryan of the Institute for Public Policy and Governance at the University of Technology Sydney in relation to disclosure.
“If there’s any doubt, you need to declare it.”
Mr Zhou was required to file a pecuniary interest form after his election to Ryde Council in September 2017.
The form covers the full year to June 2018 and lists his only assets as a half share of the family home in Sydney’s Oatlands, purchased with his wife in October 2016 for $2.2 million, and 20 per cent of a former gold venture, AGSX Trading.
The Financial Review has identified five property assets that Mr Zhou failed to declare. These include a six-bedroom house in Dural that he bought in March 2015 for $2.15 million.
He also failed to disclose the Granville apartment he bought in May 2017 for $675,000, according to the liquidator of his company, Australian Gold Exchange.
Mr Zhou said on his pecuniary interest statement to the council that he had no debt, no other income beyond his council stipend and had not sold any property.
In fact, title records show that two weeks after being elected Mr Zhou sold his only property holding within the Ryde Council area, on Avondale Way in Eastwood, for $1.65 million.
In June 2017, before running for council, Mr Zhou set up a new company with other investors, Dural Pty Ltd, which was operated out of his Oatlands home.
His mother, who lives at the same address, held 50.5 per cent of the new venture through her company ZW Holding.
In December 2017, this new company paid $3.25 million for a 2.4 hectare property in Dural. It then hired surveyors and planners to file a new Deposited Plan for the site, a key step in any subdivision.
The property was sold in August 2018 for $3.7 million, weeks after filing the new plan.
Mr Zhou left blank a Yes/No question in the 2018-19 Pecuniary Interest form which required councillors to declare if they acted as property developers or were a “close associate” of a property developer.
Mr Zhou’s $4 million stake in Mr Huang’s Pymble Corporate Centre, on Sydney’s north shore, was held through a company called Zwymble.
The Zwymble shares were originally in Mr Zhou’s name but in August 2017, three weeks before the council election, ASIC was told the shares had been transferred to his mother’s company four months earlier.
But the $4 million stake still had to be declared under disclosure laws, which extend to family members including parents.
The Zwymble shares were transferred from Mr Zhou’s mother to a business associate, Chris Wang, in December 2017.
“It was just a change of mind,” Mr Zhou told the Financial Review in a telephone interview last month. “It was supposed to be an investment company but I was too busy to do it.”
Since 2017, Mr Zhou’s mother has taken stakes in at least 10 companies linked to her son, but in the phone interview he described an ongoing decision-making role with several of these companies.
“I have to support myself, you know,” he said.
Along with failing to declare his directorships and property interests, Mr Zhou is under scrutiny from the collapse of his Australian Gold Exchange, which called in a liquidator in May 2017 owing $2.7 million to the Tax Office.
The ATO later replaced the liquidator with Vaughan Strawbridge of Deloitte, who noted $28 million in cash withdrawals from the company’s bank accounts over nearly three years were recorded as petty cash to pay suppliers and other creditors.
Mr Strawbridge said he was investigating possible recovery actions for “unfair preference payments, insolvent trading, uncommercial transactions and … unreasonable director-related transactions”.
After his election win in September 2017, Mr Zhou told The Sydney Morning Herald, “I’m no longer in the gold industry business”.
“When I decided to run for council, I decided to commit my time to my local work.”
This wasn’t entirely accurate. In June 2017 he had set up a new bullion trading company, ACX Gold. His mother owned 70 per cent, with the rest held by his long-time employee Leigh Prosser, who herself ran unsuccessfully for council on Mr Zhou’s ticket.
Mr Zhou didn’t disclose stakes his mother held in other gold companies including AGSX, Zhou Py Ltd, the former Zhou Group, the former AGSX Investables and Gold Barossa.
“I don’t manage or operate any of those businesses [but] I am keeping an open door to business opportunity,” Mr Zhou said.
The newest gold trading company is 1100 Degrees, which Ms Prosser set up in April 2018 with Chris Wang and Mr Zhou’s mother.
“I was with her in another company, and there was some stock left over,” said Mr Zhou. “It was a very kind offer from her to allocate some shares from her company.”