Phillip Dong Fang Lee has assets frozen as ATO demands tax payment of over $270 million

Phillip Dong Fang Lee and wife Xiaobei Shi’s Mandalay Mansion in Point Piper is one of sixteen properties frozen under court orders. Photo: supplied.

 

BILLIONAIRE property developer Phillip Dong Fang Lee and his wife Xiaobei Shi have had their assets frozen as the Australian Tax Office pursues them for more than $272 million.

The Chinese-born developer has caused a stir in both the Myall Coast and Port Stephens’ communities in the past due to repeated environmental damage to their properties.

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The couple own a 400-hectare property at ‘Fame Cove’, as well as 5569 hectares of land across in the area.

The Federal Court’s orders to freeze assets apply to sixteen properties linked to the couple including a $40 million mansion in Point Piper, a large number of luxury cars and the couple’s properties including ‘Fame Cove’, Tea Gardens Pine Plantations, Nerong farmland, Bundabah farmland and land in Pindimar.

For many years, the couple’s Fame Cove property, purchased for $8.8 million in 2006, has been a topic of conversation with many breaches of environmental protection laws dating back to 2009 where fines of almost $200,000 were incurred after a failed excavation of a dam wall.

Clearing of bushland, damage to the marine sanctuary and dumping of rock deposits also led to fines amounting to just under $100,000 from 2014-2019.

Local MP Kate Washington has fought Mr Lee’s development for a number of years, expressing anger at the NSW Government for not taking action and now calls for money to be set aside for remediation of the “pristine land near Tea Gardens that has been destroyed”.

“The immense harm inflicted by Mr Lee on environmentally and culturally sensitive land should have seen these assets frozen a long time ago.

“Instead, Mr Lee has left a trail of destruction in Port Stephens.

“Out of this process, money must be set aside to remediate the land he’s ruined,” Ms Washington said.

The Court Orders do not make clear of the nature of the dispute between the ATO’s claim against the couple however it is understood that Mr Lee has filed a countersuit.

A representative from MidCoast Council spoke regarding locals’ concerns of this freeze stalling remediation work in the local area.

“Since being notified of the ATO’s freeze orders, the council’s representatives had engaged with Tea Gardens Farms’ legal representatives to secure funds to maintain the temporary erosion and sedimentation controls on the site and remove the hard-hooved animals from the site, as planned,” they said.

Mr Lee will be allowed an expenditure of $10,00 a week for personal matters, a payment of $600,000 plus GST to lawyers and a court-ordered payment of $278,561,080.63 before the financial freeze on these assets is lifted.

 

By Tara CAMPBELL

 

Phillip Dong Lee is a property developer with business interests in developing large-scale infrastructure and urban developments. Photo: supplied.

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