The Australian Federal Police (AFP) launched a financial crime investigation on Western Sydney International Airport (SWZ) land sale deal. The investigation was started after the government of Australia paid $30 million for the land which was valued only at $3 million by the Australian National Audit Office (ANAO).
The suspicious deal of Leppington Triangle land sale attracted the attention of AFP after it turned out that in June 2019, ANAO valued the land at $3 million – a tenth of the price the government of Australia paid purchasing the land in July 2018.
According to ANAO report, on July 31, 2018, the government purchased a bit more than 12-hectare triangular parcel of land located near Western Sydney International Airport (SWZ) for $30 million. The purchase was made by the government’s Department of Infrastructure as a part of the SWZ strategic plan for future airport development. The piece of land sits at the end of the proposed second runway of the airport.
A year after the sale was completed, on June 30, 2019, during ANAO’s standard procedures for financial reporting purposes, the authority noticed an unusual transaction. While ANAO undertook further audit procedures, it could not conclude on key aspects of the transaction based on information which was provided by the Department of Infrastructure.
Speaking to local media, Catherine King, the Member of the Australian Parliament, doubted the Department’s motives behind the deal.
“The Australian National Audit Office found serious deficiencies in the way this purchase was undertaken. How did the government manage to pay $30 million for a piece of land that was 11 months later valued at only $3 million?” outraged the Member of Australian Parliament. “There is something very fishy about what has gone on here,“ added King.
On October 16, 2020, the AFP announced that it reviewed the deal and started an initial stage of financial crime investigation.