THE Australian Taxation Office has been thwarted in its bid to claw back a tax debt owed by former high flying Brisbane businessman Sir Yii Ann Hii.
In the past year, the amount owed by Sir Yii has ballooned from $64 million to $69 million, with interest currently accruing at $13,157 a day.
Fiona Biltris, who works for the ATO’s debt section, has told the Supreme Court that even though the ATO was granted extraordinary powers to “seize and sell” Sir Hii’s palatial Brisbane home, the bill still stands at $69 million — which includes $5 million in interest.
Ms Biltris has asked the court for a “renewal” of the “enforcement warrant” to “seize and sell” Hii’s half share in the Dickson Terrace home which used to belong to Christopher Skase.
The warrant was granted last year and ran out on April 25, a new one was granted by a Supreme Court registrar four days before it was due to expire.
Ms Biltris told the court that 330 hectares of vacant rural land in Lyons on Brisbane’s southern fringe which was part-owned by Hii had been sold, releasing $260,612 to the ATO.
The ATO has a caveat over the $35 million Hamilton home, preventing Hii from selling it himself.
The home has nine bedrooms, nine bathrooms, an eight-car garage, pool, tennis and theatre.
The Chinese-Malay entrepreneur who hails from a family who made its fortune by felling century-old forests in the Malaysian state of Sarawak, on the island of Borneo, has exhausted all avenues of appeal in Australia, but in a last-ditch bid he has launched a case against the Australian Government in Malaysia.
He is asking the Malaysian court to declare the ATO’s decision invalid, claiming he was a tax resident of Malaysia between 2001 and 2009.
Several Australian courts have upheld the ATO’s claim that Sir Yii was an Australian resident for tax purposes between 2001 and 2009 and he “avoided tax by evasion”.
Hii was knighted by the Queen in 2007 for his services to the timber industry in Papua New Guinea.
Despite not wanting to pay tax, Mr Hii enrolled in the Medicare system, a benefit only available to residents, and educated his six children at Queensland schools and universities.
His two daughters studied medicine and his son studied law, his youngest son studied at Brisbane Grammar School.