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Chinese billionaire accused of ‘puppeteering’: Who is Chau Chak Wing?

·Personal Finance Editor
·3-min read
Chau Chak Wing
Chinese billionaire Chau Chak Wing has been accused of 'pupeterring'. (Source: AAP)

Prolific political donor Chau Chak Wing's name is plastered on Australian museums and university buildings, and yesterday he was accused of being the “puppeteer” behind a plan for foreign interference in Australia’s federal election.

Chau, who immigrated from Hong Kong to Australia in the 1980s, has a net worth of around $4.57 billion.

He slammed the allegations, which were raised under parliamentary privilege by Labor senator Kimberley Kitching, calling them “reckless and baseless”.

But who is the elusive billionaire? This is what you need to know.

How Chau made his billions

Chau is a property developer and chair of the Kingold Group, a diverse business dealing in real estate, finance, health, education, hospitality and media.

The group, which employs more than 10,000 people, has Australia, China and Europe as its main areas of operation.

Chau started investing in property in the 1990s, when he founded the company.

In addition to his company, Chau is also:

  • Chair of the Asia-Pacific Region of the World Leadership Alliance

  • Club de Madrid President's Circle

  • Patron of the Australia China Business Council NSW

  • Founder and co-patron of the Australia-China Friendship and Exchange Association

  • Fellow of the Australian War Memorial

  • Honorary Ambassador of Soldier On Australia

  • Co-chair of the Nizami Ganjavi International Center Global Circle

History of donations

Chau has made many notable donations in Australia and China.

In 2010, he donated $20 million towards the construction of the Dr Chau Chak Wing Building for the University of Technology Sydney (UTS).

He also donated $5 million for a scholarship fund to UTS.

In 2015, he donated $15 million towards the construction of the Chau Chak Wing Museum for the University of Sydney (USYD).

Also in 2015, Chau donated $60,000 to the Australian War Memorial for the Anzac Education Program and $500,000 for the creation of the Kingold Education and Media Centre.

Between 2014 and 2018, it is estimated he donated around $4 million to the Liberal and Labor parties.

In 2019, he donated a further $500,000 to Soldier On, which supports Australian veterans and their families.

Sydney, Australia - February 18, 2015: A section of the Dr Chau Chak Wing Building of the University of Technology, Sydney. Designed by Frank Gehry, it has been likened to a crushed paper bag.
The Dr Chau Chak Wing Building of the University of Technology, Sydney. (Source: Getty)

Previous allegations

Chau has previously been named in a US Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) case investigating the alleged bribery of the former president of the United Nations, John Ashe.

The FBI alleged $200,000 of Chau’s money was used to bribe Ashe to attend a conference at his Imperial Springs resort in China.

The Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO) suspected Sheri Yan, an Australian-Chinese national, used the funds. Yan pleaded guilty to bribery and served a 20-month jail sentence.

Chau was never charged with wrongdoing in the case.

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