Australian Interior Minister Peter Dutton met with a Chinese millionaire, the local press reveals today, despite diplomatic tensions between Canberra and Beijing over alleged Asian interference in the ocean nation.
Businessman Huang Xiangmo, who has strong ties to the Chinese Communist Party, allegedly paid a large sum of money to former Liberal minister Santoro Santo to meet privately with Dutton in 2016, when he was Minister of Immigration, at a restaurant in Sydney.
After the appointment, Dutton allegedly accelerated the request for citizenship of the Chinese millionaire and his family, reveals a joint journalistic investigation of the Four Corners program of the ABC channel and the media group Fairfax.
Huang, a major donor to political parties, universities and other NGOs in Australia, arrived in the ocean country in 2011.
Despite efforts to achieve citizenship, the authorities rejected Huang's request and stripped him of his residence permit by labeling him as a threat of political interference in Australia as a result of his connections with the communist regime.
In the midst of the scandal, Dutton assured the media today that he has not received any donation from this individual, but he did not deny the meeting.
Duncan Lewis, director general of the Australian Security and Intelligence Organization, told the Senate on Monday that Australia suffers an "unprecedented" threat from foreign intelligence agents.
Australia, which will hold general elections in May, passed a law in December banning foreign donations to prevent interference by countries like China in its domestic policy, something that Beijing has always denied and caused friction between the two nations.