AFP investigating allegations of money laundering in innovation and investor visa applications

How much do people really owe Centrelink? Source: AAP

Allegations of money laundering are being investigated by the Australian Federal Police as part of the government’s Business Innovation and Investor visa scheme.

In a response to a Senate estimates question on notice from Labor Senator Louise Pratt published on Tuesday, the Department of Immigration said it was working with the Australian Federal Police on “fewer than five applications where there are allegations of money laundering" within the Business Innovation and Investment visa scheme.

The visa program covers five visa streams, including business innovation, investor and entrepreneur categories.

In a statement to SBS World News, the Department said: "A small number of business investment visa streams are affected including the Significant Investor Visa."

The Significant Investor stream is open to people from overseas prepared to invest at least $5 million in Australian companies.

Since the commencement of the program in 2012, 1778 Significant Investor visas have been granted and the Department of Immigration claims $8.9 billion has been invested into Australian companies through the scheme. 

Labor Immigration Spokesperson Shayne Neumann said the Significant Investor visa "is meant to boost the Australian economy; not bring in money launderers and fraudulent figures". 

“The Turnbull Government needs to assure Australians that the migration system isn’t being taken advantage of – especially by people with criminal intentions or those engaged in organised crime activities," he said.

The Department of Immigration stated in its response to Senator Pratt that it "is aware of the potential for serious economic fraud in the Business Innovation and Investment Programme".

Immigration Minister Peter Dutton has been contacted for comment.

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