Swanston Central Chinese developer's assets frozen by ATO over $103m tax bill

Swanston Central Chinese developer's assets frozen by ATO over $103m tax bill
Staff reporterDecember 7, 2020

The Federal Court has frozen the assets belonging to Chinese businesswoman Min Wang, whose company is redeveloping the Swanston Central precinct in Melbourne. 

The assets frozen by the Federal Court judgment include a Normanby Street, Brighton home, an 2014 Aston Martin, a 2016 Rolls Royce, and a $106 million loan from a family trust.

The Australian Taxation Office issued an assessment to Ms Wang totalling $103 million for the 2015 and 2016 years.

It is the second major tax dispute involving a Chinese property developer after billionaire Huang Xiangmo had his assets frozen over a $141 million tax debt.

Ms Wang and her husband, Liang Chen operate the Shandong Hengyi Group.

The Melbourne-based Hengyi is developing 1000 apartments in the 72-storey tower in Swanston Street.

Ms Wang started in property development in Australia in 2010.

In 2014, she, Mr Chen and their children were granted permanent visas under Australia's business talent scheme.

The October 28 freezing order has been extended on until November 25.

The judgment by Justice Davies says there was "sufficient basis on which to be satisfied that there is a danger that assets may be dissipated in order to frustrate recovery."

"The amount of tax liability is very significant in circumstances where she has both the means and the motive to remove assets because of her control of each of the corporate entities and of the trusts of which those corporate entities are trustees," it says.

There was allegations that Ms Wang made false statements in her income tax returns for the 2014 and 2015 income years about her interests in China by saying she did not have assets outside Australia valued at $50,000 or more or an interest in any foreign controlled company, the judgment says.

"There is also evidence that Ms Wang gave misleading information to the Australian Taxation Office concerning the funding of the purchase and development of the property at 199 William Street, Melbourne by Hengyi Australia, a company of which Ms Wang is a sole director and shareholder," the judgment says.

"The evidence discloses that Ms Wang has experience in international financial dealings and a history of transferring assets and liabilities between related parties.

"She also has a history of not putting commercial agreements between related parties into writing."

The order does not prohibit Wang paying herself up to $1,000 a week in ordinary living expenses and paying reasonable legal expenses.

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