Tuesday, November 26, 2019

NSW LPAB found Zhu Misnhen's Top Group fit and proper to issue LLBs despite Top's links to Chinese government, tax havens, and a mysterious major shareholder -SMH investigation of 2016 reveals details which should concern ASIO, and cause investigation into the conduct of the NSW LPAB

by Ganesh Sahathevan


Hon George Brandis







In 2016 the SMh reported the following about Zhu Minshen's Top Education Institute:

The institute"s former director and owner of a 10-per cent stake Sydney businessman Qingquan Yang registered Asian Profit Investment to a Samoan bank using law firm Mossack Fonseca in 2005.

Nearly 4000 companies have been registered to the same building, according to documents published by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalis
ts.



The institute"s former director and owner of a 10-per cent stake Sydney businessman Qingquan Yang registered Asian Profit Investment to a Samoan bank using law firm Mossack Fonseca in 2005.

Nearly 4000 companies have been registered to the same building, according to documents published by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalis
ts.

Senator Dastyari declined to comment.

Dongbo Zhang is the director of a New Zealand company Tristar which owns about 10 per cent of the institute's shares.

Mr Zhang is also the director of a multi-billion dollar fund owned by the Chinese government for reducing its energy costs, according to Hong Kong Stock Exchange documents.


He incorporated another company, Joy Surplus Development, in the British Virgin Islands in 2007.

The interests behind the group's largest shareholder, "High Summit Holdings", with a near 20 per cent stake, remains unknown.

An address for the foreign company provided to Australian regulators led to the floor of an office building occupied by a technology investor and video game developer owned by prominent Hong Kong family the Chans.


Both it and a separate address for a parent company provided to Chinese regulators have been used to register multiple offshore companies.

Finally, accounting giant PWC, a 15 per cent nominee shareholder in the institute, has been involved in the development of several tax minimisation services, which were exposed in a 2014 leak of documents, Lux Leaks


A spokesman for the institute declined to provide information on the identity of its shareholders.

"Top Education will not be commenting on this matter," the spokesman said.



In Top's own words:
 In 2013, the Tertiary Education Quality Standards Agency (TEQSA) formally granted TOP accreditation to provide legal education.
In 2015, TOP made history when the New South Wales Legal Profession Admission Board accredited the TOP LLB as a course fulfilling the academic knowledge requirement for admission to legal practice in Australia. TOP became the first non-university tertiary education provider in Australia of an LLB degree that enables its graduates to apply for admission as professional lawyers.
The question here is a simple one: How did the NSW LPAB makes this exception for Zhu Minshen's Top, despite this opaque shareholding structure?


The NSW LPAB has a history of non-disclosure and of poor regulation of the educational institutions that it is meant to regulate.
An audit of the NSW LPAB would be a good place to start in trying to unravel what exactly led to the NSW LPAB's decision to make its history making award to Zhu Minshen and his Top Education Group.

See for example:


Why a special audit of Peter Hall's ICAC must include a review of his handling of the China donation inquiry , and the NSW LPAB 's dealings with Zhu Minshen



Timing of Zhu Minshen & Top Group's LPAB decision adds to LPAB audit red flags: AG Mark Speakman must ensure that the details of the LPAB's dealings with Top, Zhu are fully disclosed. Auditor General NSW has a duty to ensure Speakman does so














Donors linked to tax havens condemned by Dastyari


By James Robertson
September 10, 2016 — 6.31pm



Over the past year NSW Labor Senator Sam Dastyari has built a substantial profile campaigning against multinational tax avoidance and freely accusing businesses and political opponents of profiting from "rorts" and immoral behaviour.

But a Fairfax Media investigation has revealed several owners of the Top Education Institute which made the $1600 gift that forced Senator Dastyari to resign from the frontbench have incorporated companies in some of the world's most notorious tax havens condemned by Senator Dastyari.



Senator Sam Dastyari has been dropped from the frontbench.
CREDIT:WOLTER PEETERS

Last October, using parliamentary privilege Mr Dastyari said Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull was potentially party to a "tax scam" for registering businesses in the Cayman Islands.

But earlier that week he had updated his own interests register to reflect the $1600 payment from Top Education Institute.





Connections.

Most of the attention on the institute has focused on the company's director, Chinese businessman and donor Minshen Zhu.

Senator Dastyari was forced to step down last week after Fairfax Media revealed that having blown his travel allowance by $1670, he contacted Minshen Zhu to pay the bill.

But the company has seven other shareholders who have escaped the limelight.
"Let's not pussyfoot around it. What is the business model of these tax havens?" Mr Dastyari told an ABC special on the controversial global tax minimisation specialists Mossack Fonseca. "We will allow you to engage in practices for a small fee that would otherwise be illegal in your host country. That's the business model."



The institute"s former director and owner of a 10-per cent stake Sydney businessman Qingquan Yang registered Asian Profit Investment to a Samoan bank using law firm Mossack Fonseca in 2005.

Nearly 4000 companies have been registered to the same building, according to documents published by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalis
ts.

Senator Dastyari declined to comment.

Dongbo Zhang is the director of a New Zealand company Tristar which owns about 10 per cent of the institute's shares.

Mr Zhang is also the director of a multi-billion dollar fund owned by the Chinese government for reducing its energy costs, according to Hong Kong Stock Exchange documents.



He incorporated another company, Joy Surplus Development, in the British Virgin Islands in 2007.

The interests behind the group's largest shareholder, "High Summit Holdings", with a near 20 per cent stake, remains unknown.

An address for the foreign company provided to Australian regulators led to the floor of an office building occupied by a technology investor and video game developer owned by prominent Hong Kong family the Chans.


Both it and a separate address for a parent company provided to Chinese regulators have been used to register multiple offshore companies.

Finally, accounting giant PWC, a 15 per cent nominee shareholder in the institute, has been involved in the development of several tax minimisation services, which were exposed in a 2014 leak of documents, Lux Leaks


A spokesman for the institute declined to provide information on the identity of its shareholders.

"Top Education will not be commenting on this matter," the spokesman said.


According to NSW Electoral Commission documents, Top Education gave more than $80,000 to the ALP in 2012, the year after the party lost power at the NSW level, when Senator Dastyari was general secretary.

But a party source denied this could be viewed as being linked to any attempts to influence the party's policies such as its opposition to the sale of the state's ports announced that year.

Many companies opposed port sales because they could lead to higher freight costs. The institute's linked companies include those in the global transport trade, such as Sydney head of global company Amen Kwai Ping Lee.



"[Chinese donors] don't operate in the same way that we think Western donors do," said the source. "It's never about a particular issue".

Senator Dastyari was due to speak on Wednesday, the Australian Financial Review reported, at an event, "Inside the Panama Papers" before pulling out.

Hong Kong is the global capital of tax evasion, the Panama Papers revealed.

About 800 Australians were found to have interests registered in the leak, ranging from suspects in an Australian Tax Office sting on tax evasion through to prominent and legitimate businesses.

There is nothing illegal about registering companies to minimise tax.



Last year Mr Turnbull said all his investments registered through the Caymans paid tax at the proper domestic rates.

Mr Turnbull is under increasing pressure to reform donor laws. Speaking from a series of summits in Asia this week, he reiterated his long-standing personal view that donations would "ideally" be limited to individuals on the Australian electoral roll, striking off corporations, unions and foreign nationals.

Labor is also pushing for a ban on foreign donations, and Liberal figures as diverse as Christopher Pyne, Cory Bernardi and Steve Ciobo have thrown their weight behind change in various forms.

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