The family of Australia’s favourite disgraced Chinese billionaire, Huang Xiangmo, has bought out a multimillion-dollar Sydney property stake linked to his sometime protege, Simon Zhou, the deputy mayor of Ryde Council.
Last year The Australian Financial Review revealed that Huang was sitting on a $135 million profit after winning development approval for Eastwood Plaza, which had been supported by Ryde Council.
While Zhou did not vote on the project or profit from it, his fellow councillors referred him to NSW’s Independent Commission Against Corruption over his failure to disclose a $4 million interest that he previously held in a Huang property 10km away, Pymble Corporate Centre. It’s not known if ICAC has pursued the matter.
Huang bought the Pymble property for $81 million in September 2016 from Rich Listers Bob Magid and his sister, Eleanor Goodridge.
But it had all been a “misunderstanding”, Zhou told The Australian in December. Yes, his company, Zwymble, held 5 per cent of the Pymble holding company, but he had “forfeited” his 51 per cent of Zwymble by transferring it to his mother and then to a family trust.
It turned out Zhou had another $13 million of property holdings that he also had not disclosed to the council. Perhaps that was forfeited in the family trust as well.
Zhou remains a staunch supporter of Huang, whose Australian residency was cancelled in 2018 on ASIO advice that he was a “foreign interference” security risk. Huang denies any wrongdoing. Zhou told the Oz he talks to Huang on WeChat and suggested: “I could meet him again.”
Perhaps that’s just what happened, because on May 5 the holding company for Pymble Corporate Centre told ASIC the Huang family’s Creektown Investment had acquired Zwymble’s 5 per cent stake.
How much money did Huang’s company pay Zwymble and the Zhou family trust? These things don’t come cheap – “I was never given it for free,” Zhou said last year of the 2016 deal to obtain the $4 million Pymble interest.
Back in December Justice Jayne Jagot made a $140.6 million tax judgment in the Federal Court against Huang (which he is appealing), only to see the Tax Office make a fresh application in March to continue freezing orders after a flurry of asset sales by Huang companies, which are now controlled by his son, Jimmy.
That action was settled on May 5, the same day Creektown Investment notified that it had bought Zwymble out of Pymble. Call it radical social distancing.
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