What lies behind the Real Scandal in the Pandora Papers?

ALAN KOHLER writes in ‘The Real Scandal in the Pandora Papers’

‘The most disturbing part of the Four Corners program this week about the PANDORA PAPERS leak was the statement by Greens Senator Peter Whish-Wilson that lobbying and donations by lawyers, accountants and real estate agents have successfully blocked any action on money laundering in Australia.

CAAN:  Sadly this is true!

HOW did this ‘Pushback’ happen?  Lobbying by the Real Estate Institute and the Law Council!   

It appears the gatekeepers dodged the responsibility by passing the buck when then President of the Real Estate Institute of Australia, Adrian Kelly said that others should also bear the regulatory burden.

“We are working with government on an approach that minimises the impact on agents because much of the information can be sought from others involved in the transaction process, including the banks and their conveying process,” he said.

When it was unlikely that funds were being transferred through the Australian Banking system, but rather through black cash, shadow banking and wire transfer of the money to an offshore bank account in a tax haven to be laundered in Casinos and Australian Real Estate!

Experts say tens of billions of dollars would have been moved from China to Australia by Chinese kleptocrats, as corrupt officials attempt to park their funds in a safe jurisdiction. 

President of the Law Council of Australia Arthur Moses, SC, said their profession was already extensively regulated by the states and territories under a comprehensive and robust regulatory system.

“The Law Council is concerned that imposing the full AML/CTF regulatory regime may create conflicts with the lawyer’s duty of confidentiality and the principle of client professional privilege, as well as increasing the cost of legal services to the community,” he said.

IS that credible?

WHY is it with the purchase of real estate there should be some difference compared to buying or selling a vehicle, why is it different?

Why is it difficult to apply laws to the purchase of real estate?

Why is that compromising a lawyer?  Why should real estate be any different to any other matter?

If there are laws governing real estate so be it.  It should not make any difference to a lawyer. If lawyers have a matter before them that involves a crime they have two choices:

-do it for their client knowing their risk

-not do it

IT was the Morrison Government that exempted the Real Estate Gatekeepers in October 2018!

Read more!

‘Real estate agents, lawyers and accountants to avoid money laundering laws’

https://www.afr.com/companies/financial-services/real-estate-agents-lawyers-and-accountants-to-avoid-money-laundering-laws-20181008-h16dcd

IN fact the second tranche of the Anti-Money Laundering Laws applicable to the Real Estate Gatekeepers (real estate agents, lawyers, and accountants ) was shelved back in 2006 … so it sat there until October 2018 when the Morrison Government exempted these gatekeepers from the AML Laws unlike the Banks!

Alan Kohler writes …. ‘ …. and both major parties apparently complying, is both sadly believable and shameful.’

The Federal Labor Party failed to implement and enforce the second tranche during its term from 2007 to 2013.  But nor did the Liberal Coalition implement the second tranche for the gatekeepers from 2013 to date 2021! 

In the lead-up to the 2019 Election in February 2019 Shadow Treasurer, Chris Bowen promised to make cross-border financial crime a pillar of Labor’s election campaign in wake of the Hayne royal commission, including pledging to reverse cuts to the Australian Federal Police and Australian Securities and Investments Commission.

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg in response also flagged additional funding in the April 2 budget for the financial regulators including ASIC, and it is understood  they were to commit additional money and staff for the Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre.

Labor’s pledge came amid concerns over private-sector “bounty hunters” acting for China to recoup the proceeds of financial crime and corruption funnelled into Australia’s property market.

The Morrison government promised to pass new anti-money laundering laws in 2018, but they were yet to pass Parliament, granting lawyers, accountants and estate agents a reprieve.!!

Mr Bowen promised to go further, but the industry signalled a fight.

“The government has completely dropped the ball on money laundering reform. According to the government’s own work plan, real estate agents should already be covered by our money laundering laws. The Liberals have done nothing to progress this,” Mr Bowen said.

“The Liberals aren’t interested in prosecuting serious financial crime,” he said. “They cut funding to ASIC, they planned to cut funding to the Serious Financial Crime Taskforce and they ripped hundreds of millions of dollars out of the Australian Federal Police, who work with our partners abroad to disrupt transnational organised crime,” the shadow treasurer said.

Read more!

‘Labor to Target Lawyers Accountants Real Estate Agents’

https://www.afr.com/companies/labor-to-target-lawyers-accountants-real-estate-agents-20190224-h1bnd3

The Liberal party pursued a very dirty ‘Labor Taxes’ Campaign … AND here we are now!

With a property BOOOM that has locked out both First Home Buyers and Sellers!

Alan Kohler writes ‘Inaction on both sides’. 

Last December, the government put forward a minor amendment to the AMLTCF law and the Greens used it to put up a further amendment requiring that second tranche to be legislated by July 1 this year.

Both major parties voted against it.

PERHAPS Labor has another plan … because it was so open prior to the 2019 Election it is not now going to follow the same path … ?

In announcing Labor’s vote, Senator Kimberley Kitching said: “While we support the intent of the additional designated services proposed by the Greens, Labor does not believe this is the right way to achieve considered law reform. We are concerned about the unintended consequences of this amendment and want to make sure our counterterrorism financing laws make it harder, not easier, for money launderers or terrorist financiers.”

According to the Greens’ Treasury spokesman, Senator Nick McKim, “Australia is now one of only six countries in the world not to have included the gatekeepers within the scope of anti-money laundering and counterterrorism financing laws”.

The others are the United States, China, Madagascar, Mauritius and Mongolia.

MANY of us question what benefits are there for us with a Foreign Investment Review Board running, it appears, contrary to our interests, with so much competition, and much of it hidden, for our Property (residential, commercial and agricultural)? 

The Morrison Government in exempting the Real Estate Gatekeepers from the AML Laws has allowed this competition to flourish locking out even more Australians from owning a home in their own country as the gatekeepers prosper even more.  With Agents working buyer against buyer, and some hidden, to bid up prices as Australian buyers are left to languish on the sidelines.

DESPITE there having been all too numerous reports on money raised in China through real estate and bank loan fraud …

And the AFP has alleged the proceeds of crime have been used to purchase or develop properties in Australia

The Paris based Financial Action Taskforce (FATF) found that Australian homes are a haven for laundered funds, particularly from China.

Transparency International ranked Australia as having the weakest anti-money laundering laws in the Anglosphere; failing all 10 priority areas.

The OECD Working Group on Bribery in International Business Transactions claimed the entire ecosystem for the buying and selling property using cross-border fund flows is beyond the reach of Australian regulators!

Read more!

AFP Melbourne Tasmania Property alleged Chinese Money Laundering’

https://mobile.abc.net.au/news/2019-10-31/afp-melbourne-tasmania-property-alleged-chinese-money-laundering/11657344?pfmredir=sm

IS it any wonder that the evidence for residential buying is more sketchy? 

THE solution would be not only to implement and enforce the second tranche of the AML Laws, but to stop allowing foreign investment in Australian property!
To put a stop to onshore Proxy buyers

All these international organisations have raised concerns about the proceeds of crime driving up property prices, and pricing legitimate buyers out of the market yet the Chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on Tax and Revenue, Jason Falinski, who is currently running an inquiry into housing affordability and supply, told Alan Kohler that he thinks that’s simply not true.

WHY?  Was Jason Falinski out of the room when the Morrison Government exempted the Real Estate Gatekeepers from the second tranche of the AML Laws in October 2018?

WHAT is possibly behind Falinski’s response?  Could it be something to do with …


‘The Big Ten Donors Property Developers Ratchet up their Spending on Politicians’

https://www.michaelwest.com.au/the-big-ten-donors-property-developers-ratchet-up-their-spending-on-politicians/?fbclid=IwAR3RgQkaY8z1xBNMWoitvJOlDyk2ZTb4-pJlMm35_7PgOmxzPLV-vzCtjwA

AND so with these big Ten Donors working both sides … and Labor severely hamstrung as are we!

Bill Shorten called for a stop to political donations … but of course that was overruled by the Liberals – for obvious reasons – as they are in receipt of the large share!

‘In 2019, disclosed donations reached an all-time annual high of $5.6 million in anticipation of the Federal election. Of this, 72% or just over $4 million came from a single source, Sugolena Ptd Ltd. Sugolena’s donation was exclusively to the Federal Liberal Party.

‘The Miracle’!

That year, Sugolena was the Liberal Party’s second-biggest single donor, behind the party’s fundraising arm The Cormack Foundation.’

Sugolena, owned by property tycoon Isaac Wakil, donated a staggering $4,162,448 to the Liberals and the Liberal National Party in Queensland. Mr Wakil himself donated $32,073 to the NSW Liberals.

Read more!

‘Property Industry Donations Favour the Coalition about Eight to One AEC Figures show’

https://www.domain.com.au/news/property-industry-donations-favour-the-coalition-about-eight-to-one-aec-figures-show-927046/

BACKGROUND

Scott Morrison wrote the policy for the developer lobby group, the Property Council of Australia before entering politics …