Chinese tycoon buys trophy home
One of China's wealthiest individuals has bought a Melbourne mansion worth more than $20 million amid claims the businessman regularly flies into the country in a private jet bringing suitcases of cash.
Wang Hua is ranked China's 790th richest person with a net worth of $400 million that the 54-year-old is looking to invest in Australia in residential developments, wineries, timber companies, golf courses and luxury homes.
Mr Wang, a former People's Liberation Army serviceman, was the mystery buyer who spent at least $20 million in September for a sprawling estate in Toorak from the director of construction company L.U. Simon Peter Devitt.
The sale of one of Melbourne's most expensive trophy homes followed a flight into the city on his personal jet in which Mr Wang shuttles between his adopted home and the Chinese operations of his conglomerate, Jeshing Group.
On his regular visits to Australia, Mr Wang reportedly brings a suitcase full of US dollars that is deposited with a local branch of a mainland Chinese bank, according to allegations in court documents.
The claims were made by long-time acquaintance and business partner Guo Zhao "Sunny" Sun, who became embroiled in a Supreme Court battle with Mr Wang over control of the exclusive Heritage Golf & Country Club in Chirnside Park, Victoria, in early 2013.
"I told Mr Sun I wanted to have a business destination like Heritage to which I could bring associates from China to discuss business deals, and was thinking about buying the golf courses," Mr Wang said in an affidavit. In September 2011, Mr Sun alleges he was told to pick up $800,000 in cash to pay for a portion of Mr Wang's stake in the club.
"Mr Wang telephoned me and said that he had just arrived in Australia with cash and that I should immediately meet him at the Bank of China at Melbourne to collect the $800,000 which he had changed from US dollars at the bank," Mr Sun said in an affidavit.
But the pending deal between the two went sour after a funding dispute and amid allegations that Mr Wang threatened to bankrupt the controlling company Golden Heritage Golf Pty Ltd and "buy the assets cheaply".
"I am very rich ... all my wealthy friends know I have bought a golf course in Melbourne. I need real control of GHG, I cannot lose face," Mr Wang allegedly told Mr Sun.
The legal proceeding was discontinued with the consent of all parties in June.
The golf course was just one of many investments Mr Wang has been involved in since he and his wife, Xiao "Kylie" Yan Bao, got Australian visas in 2001, according to court documents.
In 2003, Mr Wang and Mr Sun founded the residential development company Kingsland Group, which has built small-scale townhouse and apartment developments in Melbourne. Mr Wang's wife also bought a mansion on Irving Road, Toorak for $3,399,000 that year.
His company Kingsland Timber (mooted as a possible buyer of failed Tasmanian forestry company Gunns), and another owns a winery that exports to China. Mr Wang's Melbourne representative refused to pass on a list of questions to his employer. "Mr Wang does not want the media to expose his information like this," he said. "Just be careful. That is not a threat."
Mr Wang declined to comment when reached on his mobile phone.