China's Great Wall of visa money

Nearly half a billion dollars of investment was poured into the Australian economy in the December quarter, thanks to application fees for significant investment visas.

New analysis from the real estate advisory arm of Korda Mentha has revealed that the government’s significant investment visa scheme is booming, with the number of approved visas growing exponentially in the second half of 2013.

As per the visa requirements, a “significant investor” is required to commit at least $5 million worth of investment to Australia. Off the Korda Mentha figures, this means that in 2013, the scheme brought in at least $440 million to the Australian economy - around $4 million per day.

The data follows Department of Immigration data released yesterday that revealed nine out of every ten SIV applicants are from the Chinese mainland. This suggests that 90 per cent of the estimated $440 million came from China.

There has been a significant spike in the number of SIV approvals since the Coalition government came into power last September. There were only 15 approvals in first eight months of 2013 under the Labor government. The number of approvals surged nearly 600 per cent in the first two months of the new government.

Berrick Wilson, a managing director at Korda Mentha told Business Spectator his firm has established a “direct real estate fund” to cater for the growing demand from SIV applicants who want alternatives apart from cash and fixed income products.

“Our fund is really focused on commercial real estate, low volatility, income producing properties throughout Australia,” he said, “ we really tailor this fund to meet SIV requirements and our minimum subscription is one million dollars.”   

Mr Wilson said he expected to raise $100 million from SIV applicants initially.

Korda Mentha data shows Victoria and NSW are the top two destinations for millionaire investors. Business Spectator understands the Victorian government has been proactive in approaching Chinese investors.

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