Corrupt overseas buyers ramp up property price, burn locals


The Malaysian firms that received the alleged kickbacks are closely linked to a senior figure at the Malaysian government investment agency MARA. Another figure involved is a senior Malaysian official and former politician with close links to a Malaysian cabinet minister.

Nick McKenzie, Richard Baker, John Garnaut, The Age

The first hard evidence has emerged of Australian property prices being inflated as real estate is used as a safe haven or money laundering hub by corrupt foreign nationals.

The alleged criminal conduct is linked to multimillion-dollar property transactions which drove a group of small Australian tradesmen to the wall and which implicates top Malaysian officials and businessmen.

Fairfax Media can reveal that a group of super-rich Malaysian officials, spending their own government’s investment funds, have bid up the price of a Melbourne apartment block from $17.8 million to $22.5 million. The extra $4.75 million was then laundered out of Australia and allegedly paid as bribes in Malaysia.

Despite the huge amounts involved, about 150 Australian creditors, including Melbourne tradesman John Bond and several other builders, have been left out of pocket or are facing bankruptcy after a company linked to the deal collapsed.

“This deal has ripped off Australians and involve serious corruption but no one has been held to account,” Mr Bond told Fairfax Media.

About $80 million worth of Australian property, including office or apartment blocks in Swanston, Queen and Exhibition streets in Melbourne’s CBD, are implicated in dealings by the same group of high-ranking Malaysians.

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