July 2014

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If you have been the victim of bad decisions made by gumtree [owned by ebay] operatives who are ill trained & ill equipped to handle the needs of gumtrees clients & advertisers we need you to post your comments on a new site that we are putting together called in which a forum for complaints against providers will allow you to post your comments so people are well versed in the voicing of wrongs done to them by some service providers. Our web masters are working on the site now via our private investigations portal of

WATCH THIS SPACE Be-vigilant- yellow-eyeballs move

Henry Sapiecha

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If you have been the victim of bad decisions made by gumtree [owned by ebay] operatives who are ill trained & ill equipped to handle the needs of gumtrees clients & advertisers we need you to post your comments on a new site that we are putting together called in which a forum for complaints against providers will allow you to post your comments so people are well versed in the voicing of wrongs done to them by some service providers. Our web masters are working on the site now via our private investigations portal of

WATCH THIS SPACE Be-vigilant- yellow-eyeballs move

Henry Sapiecha


Bill Gates and Warren Buffett in 2012 image

Bill Gates and Warren Buffett in 2012. Photo: Bloomberg

Warren Buffett, the second-richest person in the United States, made his largest single charitable contribution ever when he donated $US2.1 billion to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

The chairman and chief executive officer of Omaha, Nebraska-based Berkshire Hathaway Inc. gave 16.6 million Class B shares Monday in an annual gift to the foundation, where he is a trustee, according to a regulatory filing Tuesday. The donation beat last year’s record gift of $US2 billion, when he gave 17.5 million shares. The stock has gained 8.8 percent this year through the close of trading yesterday to $US128.98.

Buffett, 83, has vowed through the Giving Pledge initiative to give away most of his net worth, which is more than $US60 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaire’s Index, a daily ranking of the world’s wealthiest people.

Along with Microsoft co-founder Gates, the world’s richest man, he has urged other ultra-wealthy people to give away their money.

“I will give 99 per cent, but the other 1 per cent is way more than enough,” Buffett said June 9 at the Edison Electric Institute annual convention in Las Vegas.

“I have never given a dollar that caused me to give up something I wanted to buy.”

Most of Buffett’s donated money goes to the Gates Foundation, which focuses on hunger, poverty and education.

He earmarked 10 million Class B Berkshire shares for the Seattle- based charity in 2006 and gives 5 percent of the remaining total each year.

The shares were split 50-1 in 2010.

The Washington Post

Henry Sapiecha

For years, wealthy Chinese have been transferring billions worth of their money overseas, snapping up pricey real estate in markets including Australia, the US and Canada despite their country’s currency restrictions.

china flag flying in front of bank building image www.acbocallcentre (2)

Now, one way they could be doing it is clearer. Last week, when China Central Television leveled money-laundering allegations against Bank of China, the state-run broadcaster’s report prompted the revelation of a previously unannounced government program that enables individuals to transfer their yuan and convert it into dollars or other currencies overseas.

Offered by some banks in the southern province of Guangdong, across the border from Hong Kong, the trial program was introduced in 2011 for overseas property purchases and emigration and doesn’t constitute money laundering, Bank of China said in a July 9 statement. The transfers were allowed by regulators and reported to them, the bank said.

“What it shows is the government has been trying to internationalise the renminbi for a lot longer than we thought,” Jim Antos, a Hong Kong-based analyst at Mizuho Securities said, using the official name for China’s currency and referring to policy makers’ long-stated goal of allowing the yuan to become freely convertible with other currencies. “I’m rather encouraged by this news because this is the way they need to go.”

Currency Controls

China’s foreign-exchange rules cap the maximum amount of yuan that individuals are allowed to convert at $50,000 ($53,400) each year and ban them from transferring the currency abroad directly. Policy makers have taken steps in recent years, including allowing freer movements of capital in and out of China, as they seek to boost the global stature of the not-yet-fully convertible yuan.

“There’s a silver lining in this incident as it may force the regulators to address the issue in a more open and transparent way,” said Zhou Hao, a Shanghai-based economist at ANZ. “This is an irreversible trend.”

The issue came to light after CCTV said Bank of China helped customers transfer unlimited amounts of yuan abroad through a product called Youhuitong, which means “superior foreign-exchange channel.”

Positives, Negatives

The program is another sign that China is testing methods to allow outward yuan flows before full convertibility, May Yan, a Hong Kong-based analyst at Barclays Plc, said by phone. The goal has been announced by policy makers since the 1990s, and is a step toward stated plans to make Shanghai a global financial capital by 2020.

“For an experiment, you want to see if there’s any positives or negatives,” Yan said. “When the bank or the regulators can accumulate that experience, then they will decide if they want to move forward, or broaden it or shut it down.”

The central bank in February unveiled rules to make it easier for companies with operations in Shanghai’s free-trade zone to move yuan in and out of the country, a further loosening of controls on currency flows. The yuan surpassed the euro as the world’s second most-popular currency in trade finance in 2013, according to the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication.

The Guangdong branch of China’s currency regulator, the State Administration of Foreign Exchange, picked Bank of China, China Citic Bank and a foreign lender to let individuals transfer yuan abroad in a trial the banks were told not to promote, Time Weekly reported in April 2013. A Beijing-based Citic Bank press officer declined to comment on the program.

$3.4 Billion Estimate

While Bank of China didn’t provide figures, the 21st Century Business Herald estimated the lender has moved about 20 billion yuan ($3.4 billion) abroad through Youhuitong, citing people with knowledge of the trial program. “Many commercial banks” in Guangdong offer a similar service, Bank of China said in its statement, without naming them.

Today, a link on CCTV’s website for the report on Bank of China led only to advertisements. A spokeswoman for CCTV’s international relations department, which handles foreign media inquiries, didn’t immediately respond to an e-mailed request for comment on why the story appeared to no longer be available.

The People’s Bank of China and SAFE didn’t reply to requests for comment. The central bank is “verifying” facts related to media reports of bank money-laundering, the official Xinhua News Agency reported July 10, citing a PBOC spokesman.

Youhuitong Suspended

Youhuitong has been suspended while the PBOC and its anti-money laundering bureau request records of all previous transactions, according to a person familiar with the product, who asked not to be identified because he wasn’t authorised to speak publicly.

Transfer approval for Youhuitong customers usually takes several weeks to a month, the person said. They need to provide documents showing how the money to be transferred was obtained, such as tax-payment receipts and proof of income, as well as a property-purchase agreement or proof of emigration, he said.

Youhuitong customers would typically deposit yuan with Bank of China at least two weeks before the transfer, the person said. Once approved, the customer and the bank agree on an exchange rate before the funds are moved to an overseas account designated by the customer, he said. Money destined for real estate would go directly to the property seller’s account to ensure the cash won’t be misused, he said.

A Beijing-based press officer for Bank of China declined to comment. Industrial & Commercial Bank of China  and China Construction Bank, the nation’s two largest banks, declined to comment on whether they offer similar products.

Another Way

HSBC, which runs the largest branch network among foreign banks in China, offers its Chinese clients another way to access offshore mortgages while avoiding the cap on foreign-exchange conversion, according to a person familiar with the mechanism, who asked not to be identified without having authorisation to speak publicly.

Customers deposit yuan with HSBC’s mainland unit or purchase its wealth-management products, and the bank’s overseas branch then issues a foreign-currency denominated mortgage using the China deposits as collateral, the person said.

“We seek to abide by the rules and laws of the jurisdictions and geographies in which we operate,” said Gareth Hewett, a Hong Kong-based HSBC spokesman.

Affluent Chinese have been moving money overseas in search of greater investment returns. China’s benchmark stock index has tumbled 66 per cent from its 2007 record, while the government has clamped down on property lending to rein in rising prices.

Spending up in Australia

Chinese buyers, including people from Hong Kong and Taiwan, spent $US22 billion on homes in the States in the year through March, up 72 per cent from the same period in 2013 and more than any other nationality, the National Association of Realtors said in its annual report on foreign home purchases.

“Clearly the property market wouldn’t nearly be so robust as it is today without mainland money,” Mizuho’s Antos said. “How did they do it? With Bank of China’s help. There has been a tremendous amount of mainland money flowing offshore and it couldn’t have happened without” official approval.

And Chinese have become the biggest investors in Australia’s commercial and residential property, with purchases surging 42 per cent to $5.9 billion in the year to June 2013, according to the Foreign Investment Review Board.

Vancouver’s real estate market has also seen the impact, having been “fueled tremendously in the last couple of years by high-end wealthy Chinese and Hong Kong buyers,” according to real estate agent Malcolm Hasman.

China needed to improve its oversight of capital flows after $US2.7 trillion in unexplained funds moved overseas in the decade prior to 2012, Anthony Neoh, a former government adviser who helped the country open up to foreign money managers, said last year, citing data from Integrity International. Those funds fueled property bubbles in cities such as Hong Kong instead of being invested in domestic assets, he said.

“We know the demand to move abroad is there,” said ANZ’s Zhou. “Even if you impose various restrictions, the money will find its way out of the country, via underground banks and other means.”


Henry Sapiecha


Henry Sapiecha

Bitcoin pioneer calls for regulatory guidance from EU

A bitcoin sticker is seen in the window of Locali Conscious Convenience store, where one of Southern California's first two bitcoin-to-cash ATMs began operating today, in Venice

The virtual currency has come under the scrutiny of regulators in both the United States and Europe following a series of high-profile scandals such as the bankruptcy of Tokyo-based bitcoin exchange Mt. Gox.

But authorities such as the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission have not yet taken a uniform approach to regulating the nascent digital currency, and have limited themselves to issuing warnings about its risks for investors.

“One of the challenges is that without clear guidance from the EU, from the UK, it will limit industry development,” said Jeremy Allaire, head of Circle, a bitcoin consumer finance company that allows people to use and store bitcoins online.

“Unless they have a clear view of where does this (bitcoin) fit, how do we know what the rules are?” he said in an interview with Reuters.

Launched in 2009, bitcoin offers a way for people to conduct transactions over the Internet. Its backers say its anonymity – users do not need to reveal any card or financial details when making payments – protects people from fraud. Critics say this also makes it easier to commit crimes like buying illegal drugs online.

Last October U.S. authorities seized 144,000 bitcoins online in a raid on Silk Road, an Internet black-market bazaar that authorities said had been used for illegal drug transactions. Some of those bitcoins were auctioned off last week.

Allaire said bitcoins could be regulated in the same way as other payment services such as PayPal, with strict consumer protection safeguards so people would feel safer using them.

The EU’s law regulating payment services should be updated to reflect the use of bitcoins, he added.

Bitcoin supporters maintain that digital currencies are set to expand further and that as they become more mainstream the price volatility and scams that have so far bedevilled them will decrease.

In June online travel agency Expedia began accepting bitcoins as a form of payment.

“As bigger exchanges get built and you see it move from retail and speculative investors to more traditional institutional investors … you’ll see greater price stability,” said Allaire.

Last week’s auction of almost 30,000 bitcoins by the U.S. law enforcement authorities attracted bids from several high-profile investors, such as U.S. investment firm Pantera Capital.

The auction was won by one bidder, Silicon Valley investor Tim Draper, who called it a vote of confidence by the U.S. government in the nascent crypto-currency.

Allaire said authorities on both sides of the Atlantic were starting to come to terms with the rise of digital currency after initially shunning it.

“A number of these regulatory bodies have started to analyze it and look at the risks,” he said. “Most scratched their heads at the beginning and said ‘do I need to care about this? I just want it to go away.'”


Henry Sapiecha

BIT COINS IN BULK IMAGE www.profitcentre.netsingapore

Summary: The island will get its first Bitcoin ATM in March, but does it really need another currency which main appeal is the anonymity it offers, especially since Singapore is reportedly susceptible to money laundering?

eileenyu singapore bitcoin image

It’s cool, it’s hip, and it’s virtual. Bitcoin has garnered much attention the world over, including here in Singapore where news broke this week that the island will be getting its first Bitcoin ATM. The question, however, is whether the country needs another currency, especially one that carries with it inherent risks.

Singapore-based trading platform, Bitcoin Exchange, purchased a Lamassu system and is scouting for a location to place the ATM, which will begin operation in March. The company plans to acquire more units if demand grows, according to Bitcoin Exchange’s director Zann Kwan.

She told local newspaper MyPaper that Bitcoin buyers in Singapore currently need to wait at least a day after transfering money, including service fees, to an overseas exchange before they receive their Bitcoins. “This is not cheap and defeats the concept of bitcoin… A Bitcoin vending machine makes it very easy and safe to buy Bitcoin, and avoids such additional costs and other risks,” Kwan said, pointing to the possibility sellers might default on the transaction.

She told the company had yet to decide from which exchange it would base its rates. “There are a few bars that are accepting Bitcoins now and people are talking about it, but you need a few people to start the ball rolling, then the momentum will pick up,” she added.

According to Lamassu, an ATM unit is priced from US$5,000 and can issue Bitcoins in 15 seconds. Another Bitcoin ATM manufacturer, Robocoin Technologies, last month said it was negotiating plans to bring its kiosks to Hong Kong.

While countries such as China and Thailand–and possibly India and Indonesia–have outlawed the use of the currency, Singapore has chosen a different route by choosing not to regulate it, but warning businesses and individuals they will trade with Bitcoin at their own risk. The country’s Inland Revenue Authority last month outlined tax requirements for transactions involving the digital currency.

That my government has somewhat embraced Bitcoin isn’t surprising, since it traditionally has been deemed to be business-friendly. In its annual report released last October, the World Bank again ranked Singapore the world’s easiest place in which to do business, offering the most business-friendly regulatory environment for local entrepreneurs.

Inherent risks may damage Singapore financial reputation

This friendliness, however, has brought with it global critics who say the nation has become a tax haven and hub for money laundering activities.

Add Bitcoin to the equation, and such risks may exacerbate. The currency’s biggest appeal is the anonymity it affords its users, and it is this trait that has led to the associated risks, including money laundering and funding of illegal activities.

In a risk assessment study released last month, the Singapore government said the country was

potentially susceptible to money laundering and terrorist financing, adding that some sectors needed stronger oversight to mitigate such risks. The report assessed 14 financial and 8 non-financial sectors in the country including banks, money changers, casinos, and money lenders. It noted that internationally-oriented and cash-intensive sectors, in particular, were at risk. “Full banks face higher inherent risks, owing to their large customer volumes and the international nature and the international nature of their transactions,” it said.

Bitcoin also is international by nature, as is its transactions. Furthermore, its appeal to buyers and sellers who seek anonymity has led to illegal activities and the sale of contraband goods, some of which eventually shut down sites such as Silk Road and Sheep Marketplace.

It is such risks that have led China and India to warn against the use of the digital currency. Nonetheless, this hasn’t stopped retailers and consumers from lapping up the currency of the month.

Bitcoin1-in hand image

A “cool” novelty for merchants, but not compelling payment option

Some merchants in Singapore have started accepting Bitcoins, including Bartini Kitchen, Squash Passion, Artistry, and Hospoda Microbrewery. I asked fellow ZDNet blogger and restaurant owner in Singapore, Howard Lo, if he planned to follow suit. Here’s his reply:

“Bitcoin is cool and I think there’s a certain PR value for accepting Bitcoins. The geeky folks, of which there are many in Singapore, would probably come check you out just to see what it’s like to do a transaction using Bitcoins.

But is it worth training the staff and implementing the infrastructure to support Bitcoins? To be honest, I don’t know what is needed to actually accept Bitcoins. I imagine it’s just an electronic transfer into the Bitcoin account. But I’d want to figure out if it is worth the tradeoff in time to support just 1 or 2 people per week who might actually pay by Bitcoin.

The fluctuation in the value of Bitcoins is worrying. There’s the possibility of making a lot just from that fluctuation, but what if the value drops dramatically? Alternatively, do I convert the Bitcoin into Singapore dollars at the end of each night? That could be a hassle.

And how do I display my prices in Bitcoin? Let’s say a S$15 lunch set…do I change the Bitcoin price every day since the currency fluctuates so much?

I’m not concerned about someone hacking my Bitcoin account, but I will need to look into what kind of Bitcoin fraud happens. Whether it’s a customer perpetrating a fraud on me or someone pretending to be my restaurant and somehow getting money from someone else.”

Indeed, money laundering risks aside, there remains many questions about the viability of Bitcoin. Why would it appeal to Singapore consumers who already are used to cash, electronic payment NETS, credit and debit cards as payment options?

Sure, Bitcoin is universal and currency-agnostic, but purchasing in a foreign currency isn’t an issue for Singaporeans who are very familiar with e-commerce. The one attraction in this case would be the ability to transact in a currency that’s stable so online shoppers will know how much they’re spending and won’t lose out in the local-foreign exchange. But with its highly fluctuating and volatile state, Bitcoin currently is unable to offer this.

And for the merchants, as Howard pointed out, there currently are few reasons for him to want to offer it as a payment option.

In the Sheep Marketplace incident, Reddit user “kyerussell” rebuked anyone for thinking they could get their money back. “It seems that this subreddit is full of people that don’t understand the fundamentals of bitcoin and somehow think that this’ll result in people getting their money back. It won’t. That’s the point of bitcoin… You aren’t going to get anything back. None of you are going to get anything back, and it’s by design. This is EXACTLY how Bitcoin is supposed to work. Bitcoin would be fundamentally broken if you somehow got your money back.”

And unlike theft of real cash, it remains to be tested if there will be legal recourse for the loss of the digital currency. As a ZDNet reader pointed out: “Really, I would say it is exactly like black market cash.”

With all the associated potential risks, and many unanswered questions, there is little reason to choose to transact in Bitcoin over traditional payment options. If its value stabilizes, and governments start recognizing it as a legal currency with a proper framework for consumers to seek recourse, perhaps then. But, just not right now.

cash_register image

Henry Sapiecha


A single mystery bidder has secured the entire Bitcoin stash seized by US authorities from Silk Road during the arrest the drug market’s alleged founder Ross Ulbricht.

News of the auction’s outcome came on Monday after a US Marshals Service spokesperson confirmed to Coindesk it completed the transaction to “one winning bidder”.

The auction attracted 45 bidders, which submitted 63 bids during the 12 hour auction on 27 June. The transaction has since turned up on the Blockchain Bitcoin register.

The Bitcoin booty that went under the hammer last Friday was auctioned off in 10 blocks, with nine valued at 3,000 Bitcoin and one remaining block of 2,656.51 Bitcoin — a total of 29,656.51 Bitcoin.

While the identity of the winning bidder isn’t known, an error by the Marshals Service resulted in the leak of a list of people who were interested in participating in the auction.

One person who did make his bids public was Barry Silber, CEO of Bitcoin investment vehicles SeconMarker and Bitcoin Investment Trust. Silber rallied together a syndicate which included 42 bidders, who lodged 186 bids for a total of 48,013 Bitcoin.

The Marshals Service required bidders to make a $200,000 deposit to participate in the auction and said it wanted to exclude anyone acting on behalf of Silk Road or Ross Ulbricht.

The Bitcoin that was auctioned were those seized from Silk Road’s servers and not the currency seized from Ulbricht’s hardware. Ulbricht has filed a claim for 144,000 Bitcoins — today worth around $92m — that was also seized from his hardware during the arrest.

Bitcoin’s US dollar exchange rate continued to climb over the past week, according to Coindesk’s charts, from $600 on the day of the auction to $635 on Tuesday.

Read more on Bitcoin

Henry Sapiecha


HE MAY be filthy rich, but he’s not exactly a household name.

Anthony Pratt, 54, the global chair of packaging company Visy and Pratt Industries, has just been named the richest man in Australia by BRW’s Rich List 2014.

mysteryman shadow image

He made $1.7 billion in the last year alone due to huge growth in the US-based business — which grew from a family company founded with a few hundred dollars into a global force which signed a waste paper recycling contract with the entire city of New York in 1995.

Mr Pratt is now worth $7.642 billion and is ranked number two in the country behind Gina Rinehart, who’s $20.1 billion fortune still sees her firmly entrenched as the richest woman in Australia despite losing $2 billion in the last year due to falling iron ore prices.

Gina Rinehart is still by far Australia’s richest woman, with a fortune of more than $20 billion image

Gina Rinehart is still by far Australia’s richest woman, with a fortune of more than $20 billion. 

Mr Pratt’s rise is symbolic of the changing face of Australia’s wealthy, as shown in the 2014 Rich List which is due out in full tomorrow.

While mining and investments dominated the top of the tree, more than one quarter of Australia’s richest people made their fortune in property, with technology entrepreneurs snapping at their heels.

Crown Resorts chairman James Packer ranked number three on the list with a $7.186 billion fortune after strong growth in the company’s share price. However his high-profile divorce from Erica Baxter is reported to have taken $100 million off his total wealth.

Westfield’s Frank Lowy is number four with a $288 million boost in his worth to $7.158 billion. Swiss-based CEO of mining and commodity trading company Glencore Xstrata Ivan Glasenberg rounds out the top five with a $6.629 billion fortune.

James Packer is the third richest man in the country but his divorce is expected to cost $100 million image

James Packer is the third richest man in the country but his divorce is expected to cost $100 million.

Overall, Australia’s rich have got even richer in the last year with total wealth among the top 200 rising $16.81 billion to nearly $200 billion. The 2014 list is also more exclusive with at least $250 million needed to gain a place, up $15 million from last year. It also contains a record number of 39 billionaires.

The average wealth per person is just less than $1 billion although without Gina Rinehart that figure would fall to $872 million per person. The highest ranked debutant is Chinese-Australian entrepreneur Huang Bingwen, 60, who has a $1.26 billion fortune from his company Shantou Dongfeng Printing, which makes paper packaging for tobacco products, wine and cosmetics.

Ruslan Kogan image

Online retailer Ruslan Kogan debuted on the list with a $320 million fortune. Source: News Limited

Perhaps the most notable change is the rise of homegrown technology barons. Kogan electronics founder Ruslan Kogan debuted with a $320 million fortune from his online retail store that is rapidly expanding from electronics into homeware and other areas.

MORE: Ruslan Kogan’s unconventional path to a $315 million fortune

Atlassian founders Mike Cannon-Brookes and Scott Farquhar, both 34, were also valued at $2.1 billion due to recent investments in their company, while freelancer’s Matt Barrie and 30-year-old Owen Kerr from foreign exchange trader Pepperstone were also new entrants to the list.

MORE: Atlassian valued at $3.5 billion despite having no sales staff

BRW editor Michael Bailey said tech provides some of the youngest and most exciting entrants to the list. But another debutant bucking the trend is 81-year-old Michael Crouch, the manufacturer of Zip Industries who provide hot and cold taps to homes and businesses and is now valued at $310 million after selling his stake to a private equity company.

“It’s an Australian company sold all over the world … It’s quite an inspiring thing to hear. A story like that shows you can be a success in manufacturing in Australia,” Mr Bailey said.

Atlassian founders Scott Farquhar and Mike Cannon-Brookes image

Atlassian founders Scott Farquhar and Mike Cannon-Brookes are valued at more than $1 billion each after an investment in their company.

The 2014 list also shows the global nature of Australia’s business community. More than 20 of the entrants live overseas in places like Switzerland, the UK and Hong Kong.

In Australia, 63 of the richest people came from Victoria and 62 from New South Wales. Queensland is home to 29 of Australia’s wealthy, while Western Australia has 16, South Australia seven, Tasmania has two and the ACT just one.

The list also contains 14 women, with Gina Rinehart at the top, followed by TPG founder Vicky Teoh who is worth $2 billion and mining heiress Angela Bennet at $1.54 billion.

Frank Lowy’s private yacht. Pic

Property was responsible for more than a quarter of the fortunes on the list. Pictured, Frank Lowy’s private yacht. 

There were also some notable exits. Clive Palmer’s wealth tumbled $1 billion to $1.2 billion due to a fall in iron ore prices and a devaluation of some of his assets, while internet entrepreneur Graeme Wood, who founded travel site Wotif, also fell off after missing out on the $250 million cut off.

Five members worth a total of $6.2 billion also died in the last year including construction and manufacturing giant Len Buckeridge — who reportedly once picked up an adversary’s car with a forklift and dropped it over a fence. Hotelier Cyril Maloney, healthcare billionaire Paul Ramsay who left a staggering $3.3 billion to charity, beef industry guru Graeme Acton and Harvey Norman co-founder Ian Norman also died.

clive palmer scratches head image

Clive Palmer’s fortune has tumbled by $1 billion since he took on his new career in politics.


• Gina Rinehart, $20.01 billion, resources

• Anthony Pratt and family, $7.642 billion, manufacturing, investment

• James Packer, $7.186 billion, entertainment (gaming), investment

• Frank Lowy, $7.158 billion, property, investment

• Ivan Glasenberg, $6.629 billion, investment




• Gina Rinehart, $20.01 billion

• Vicky Teoh, $2 billion

• Angela Bennett, $1.54 billion

• Charlotte Vidor, $740 million

• Naomi Milgrom, $520 million




• Anthony Pratt and family, $7.64 billion

• James Packer, $7.19 billion

• Frank Lowy, $7.16 billion

• Ivan Glasenberg, $6.63 billion

• Hui Wing Mau, $6.35 billion

Henry Sapiecha

gold dollar sign line

THE BRW Rich 200 out this morning names the wealthiest people in the country — a mix of mining, property and retail magnates. But what’s it really like being part of such an elite club? asked debut rich lister and Kogan founder Ruslan Kogan — valued at $320 million — for his thoughts on Australia’s tech scene. Here’s what he had to say:

Ruslan Kogan says the rich list is open to anyone, as long as you have an idea and a credit card image

MORE: Australia has a new richest man

One thing about the Rich List list most people don’t realise, is that the valuations don’t represent the money someone actually has in the bank. In many cases it’s a hypothetical valuation for what a person might be worth. My bank account does not look anything like what BRW publishes. In fact, I have never had a salary from Kogan and the profits are reinvested back into the business to enable us to hire more people and keep building the vision we have for retail in Australia. Basically, my balls are on the line every day of the year.

MORE: How Ruslan Kogan went from $0 to a $315 million fortune

Most people who look at the list think the numbers represent how much someone can buy. I don’t look at it that way. For me it represents what they have achieved. Most businesspeople who make the list have had a huge influence through the products or services that they laboured over for years. They have enhanced lives and created hundreds of thousands of jobs. It’s this contribution to the world that the number next to every person’s name represents to me.

Ruslan Kogan says the rich list is open to anyone, as long as you have an idea and a credit card.

Ruslan Kogan was named a debut entrant on the BRW Rich List 2014 with a $320 million fortune image

As we move away from an economy dependant on resources, it’s not surprising many of the new entrants have come from a technology background. The internet has shattered the barriers to entry of nearly every single industry.

Historically, people on the list have grown their wealth through industries like property and construction. They relied on having money to make even more money. They needed capital to start with, relationships with the banks, ability to leverage loans and other things that simply aren’t available to the average person. Essentially, they needed a headstart.

My parents arrived in Australia in 1989 with $90 in their pocket. The chances of me making money through the property and construction game were slim to none. When the internet came along, a powerful idea became just as valuable as a deep pocket and bank leverage. Disruption caused by technology made it easier than ever to turn an idea into a real business.

If I wanted to start Kogan twenty years ago, I would have needed tens of millions of dollars of capital for showrooms, stock all over the country and a huge, loud and annoying advertising campaign.

Kogan has made a name selling electronics for low prices online.

Kogan has made a name selling electronics for low prices online

Today, anyone with an idea can easily create a product or service and share it with the world in just a few clicks. You can literally start a business off the back of a credit card. Intellectual property is now just as valuable and important as physical property. You only need to look as far as companies like Google, Facebook, Atlassian, Twitter & Netflix to see that the most valuable assets these companies have are their ideas and innovation, not physical possessions or the ability to provide security to the banks for massive loans. Because of technology and the value of ideas, absolutely anyone can be on the Rich List in future.

What does this all mean? We need to embrace technology and the IT community, because it’s our future. The government needs to remove every roadblock possible to ensure entrepreneurs and technology start-ups are embraced by our economy and given every possibility to grow.

Politicians like to claim credit for creating jobs, but politicians don’t create jobs. They’re simply reallocating taxpayer dollars. High growth innovative businesses create jobs that otherwise would never exist. Google, Facebook, Atlassian, Twitter and Netflix would account for hundreds of thousands jobs that didn’t exist 15 years ago. We need companies like this starting in Australia and staying in Australia.

Kogan’s family moved to Australia with just $90 to their name and he founded his company in his parent’s garage. Source: News Limited

Kogan’s family moved to Australia with just $90 to their name and he founded his company in his parent’s garage

We have some of the best IT degrees in the world, but the first thing most people do when they finish one of these degrees is fly to the USA or Europe to work there. Whenever new technology comes out, the first thing you hear is whining about why it might cost jobs in other industries and why we should ban it. You only need to look as far as Uber’s recent expansion to Australia and some of the recent backlash. Why would the best young talent in the world choose to stay in Australia if that’s how we react to new technology?

Behind every product or service that enhances our lives, there’s an entrepreneur working their butt off thinking “how can I make it better?” Whether it’s the medicine you take to feel better, the computer you’re reading this on, the clothes you’re wearing, the shampoo you used this morning, there’s a business person behind it working very hard and employing people to make it better for you. We need to embrace businesses which will create more jobs and result in a more prosperous life for everyone.

Anyone with a good idea, and the perseverance to make it a reality, can leave their mark on the world. The Rich List is open to absolutely anyone.

Henry Sapiecha