It seems rarely a week goes by where Chinese billionaire Huang Xiangmo’s name isn’t making news in Australia.
In just the past year alone, Huang has come under separate investigations by the Australian spy agency ASIO, the Australia Taxation Office (ATO), and the NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC). Huang has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing in all three cases. On Wednesday, he insisted that ASIO has not found any evidence against him and that the ATO is being used as a “political suppression tool” in a new statement.
Even though his permanent residency visa has been revoked and he is currently unable to return to Australia, he will likely continue to make headlines.
Here’s what you need to know about Huang Xiangmo.
Huang Xiangmo is a Chinese billionaire and real estate developer
Huang has made much of his fortune as a property developer, founding the Sydney-based Yuhu Group. Yuhu has been behind commercial properties all over the city, from Pymble in Sydney’s north shore to Glenwood in its west.
Huang has since taken a step back from the company, with his then 24-year-old son Jimmy Huang taking over as chairman in late 2018.
He was a Crown Casino high-roller, reportedly gambling hundreds of millions of dollars there a year
Leaked documents to Nine newspapers show that Huang was an $800 million a year gambler. He was so prolific that Crown Casino used him as a case study on how to lure super-wealthy Chinese gamblers to Australia.
Huang is well-connected in China, with ties to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP)
Huang has served as leader of the Council for the Peaceful Promotion of the Reunification of China, known as a top CCP lobbyist in Australia.
He also founded the Sydney think tank the Australia-China Relations Institute (ACRI) — run by former NSW Labor premier Bob Carr — and lobbied Crown Casino for sponsorship. Crown Resorts is currently listed under ‘Chairman’s council members’ on the ACRI site.
He has reportedly made nearly $2.7 million in political donations to both major Australian political parties
Huang has used his personal fortune to make sizeable donations to both the Labor party and the Coalition — reportedly almost $2.7 million over a five year period.
Huang was also accused of making a $100,000 cash donation to the NSW Labor Party in 2015
A NSW ICAC public hearing heard in August found that Huang had funnelled $100,000 in cash to the NSW chapter of the Labor party. Huang stands accused of delivering the cash in an envelope, under the pretence that the money had come from a “Chinese Friends of Labor” dinner held at the Sydney restaurant Emperor’s Garden. NSW Labor and Country Labor claimed employees from the restaurant had each donated large sums of cash, leading to this wry observation from counsel assisting ICAC Scott Robertson.
“These associations, along with the implausibility that restaurant workers would have the financial capacity to make lump sum donations of $5,000 or $10,000 … led the Electoral Commission to suspect that the $100,000 in cash was donated on behalf of a person or persons other than those who appeared … in disclosures,” Mr Robertson said.
Huang was accused of being that person.
He had his citizenship application denied and his permanent residency visa revoked, preventing him from returning to Australia
Government sources told the Sydney Morning Herald that the Home Affairs department denied Huang’s long-running application for citizenship for a host of reasons, including character grounds and concerns that answers he had provided to ASIO were unreliable.
His PR visa was also revoked, meaning that Huang is currently unable to return to Sydney where he has lived for years with his wife and two children. He is now believed to reside in Hong Kong.
In response, Huang called Australia a “giant baby” and requested his donations be refunded
The request set off a firestorm from Huang, who demanded that the millions he had donated to Australian politicians and political parties be returned to him. He also lashed Australia as a “giant baby” with “simple folk customs” to the Global Times, an English-language Chinese state media tabloid.
The ATO is chasing Huang for $140 million in unpaid taxes, and have frozen his Australian assets, including his Mosman mansion
The Australian Taxation Office (ATO) is chasing Huang for a $140.9 million unpaid tax debt.
Accordingly, Huang had various properties he owns frozen last month by order of the Federal Court, including a $12.8 million Mosman hilltop mansion. There’s also a house and apartment in Chatswood, as well as a Hong Kong apartment.
The ATO has also signalled it could have him declared bankrupt in Australia and has accused Huang of moving money and assets out of Australia.
Huang, for his part, looks like he will push back against disclosing his worldwide assets.
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