The man behind a 223-lot development at Millfield has apologised for a web page that purported to offer Chinese investors fast-tracked visas and access to powerful political connections if they invested in his project.
The Mandarin language page was created about 18 months prior to the project on Mount View Road receiving development approval.
“The web page was created to lay out the vision for this place,” Profit Palace director Jiang “James” Xiao said while visiting the site on Friday.
“It’s common when Chinese are interested they also have questions about visas. We were trying to communicate that if you have an inquiry there are the proper channels to go through. But it got so confused in the language and created a mess.”
The Millfield project is the Sydney-based businessman’s first foray into property development.
He previously worked as a wine exporter after having moved to Australia in 2004.
Mr Xiao, 46, said he became attracted to the Hunter Valley while working in the wine industry and hoped to eventually settle at Millfield with his family and friends.
“I love it here,” he said.
“I hope to bring investment and economic development to the community.”
The project’s web page, which was removed earlier this week, also identified a prominent immigration lawyer Nigel Dobbie and Parramatta MP Geoff Lee – both of whom had nothing to do with the development.
Mr Xiao conceded Mr Dobbie and Mr Lee should not have been associated with the project.
“It was just to show that we had met. We apologise and will write a letter,” he said.
A reference to the establishment of a major hotel featuring 50 guest rooms, a gym, entertainment room and private club on the site was also a mistake.
“It was part of the vision, but it is not in the plans,” Mr Xiao said.
“We would like to apologise for the confusion that it caused; there are no current plans for a hotel.”
The project, which has development application approval for the first 40 lots, has drawn criticism from surrounding residents who fear it will destroy the town’s rural environment.
While no lots have been sold to date, Mr Xiao said he was hoping to gain a construction certificate so work could begin in the next six to 12 months.
A spokesman for Planning Minister Anthony Roberts said the minister was awaiting advice from the Department of Fair Trading regarding the Profit Palace website’s claims.
He was also reviewing the voluntary planning agreement, which requires Mr Xiao to contribute $72,440 per hectare towards community infrastructure.