Monday, 18 September 2017

Australian Politics in 2017: Financial Fog Unlimited

Oh dear, it’s the Liberal Party of Australia once again in the headlines for all the wrong reasons.

This is a return appearance* by multimillionaire, former merchant banker and life-long silvertail Prime Minister Malcolm Bligh Turnbull.

BuzzFeed News, 11 September 2017:

….BuzzFeed News can reveal the prime minister never disclosed to parliament that Lucy purchased the $1.55m USD New York apartment in the Century Condominium building more than four years ago.

All you'll see on Malcolm Turnbull's previous and most recent parliamentary disclosure is a reference to a single "New York city apartment" owned by his wife.

Federal politicians are required to declare the interests they and their spouses hold, and gifts they receive. This is an important transparency measure to avoid any potential conflicts of interests.

But did the prime minister need to declare the apartment? Unfortunately, the parliamentary rules on this are all pretty hazy.

Lucy purchased the first condo in January 2012 for $3,275,000 USD. Turnbull, who was then in opposition, declared this first apartment on his parliamentary interest register a few days later.

But in July 2013 Lucy purchased a second condo adjacent to the first condo for $1,550,000 USD. BuzzFeed News understands the properties are now treated as one dwelling, and have only one entry.

When BuzzFeed News searched the New York land title office database, it discovered there were two apartments that Lucy Turnbull purchased.

It appears the prime minister never disclosed this later property interest on his register at the time or in subsequent disclosures. In Turnbull's later interest returns lodged in 2013 and 2016he lists a single entry for a "New York apartment" in his wife's interests.

Both properties were transferred to the ownership of Century Turnbull LLC in June 2014, a New York based company controlled by Lucy. Turnbull did disclose the registration of this company and in October 2014 wrote that the company “holds apartment in NY beneficially for spouse.”

* Malcolm Turnbull's first appearance - Australian Politics 2017: Greed Unlimited

No comments: