The Treasurer has announced changes to Australia’s foreign investment review framework, effective from 10.30pm AEDT on Sunday 29 March 2020, relating to monetary thresholds and timeframes for reviewing applications. Details are available in our recent News article, including Q&A. Material on the FIRB website is being updated to capture these changes. In the meantime, all material on this website, including guidance notes, should be read in light of the Treasurer’s announcement.

Requests for discretionary refunds of fees on withdrawals of foreign investment applications

The Foreign Investment Review Board (FIRB) recognises that measures being implemented globally, and in Australia by governments, businesses and individuals, in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic are affecting the ability of some investors to progress investment decisions.

Where those measures are resulting in delays to, or deferrals of, investment decisions that are currently the subject of a foreign investment application, and the applicant wishes to withdraw that application, the FIRB will consider refunding the fee paid. This notice provides a temporary exception to the advice provided in Guidance Note 29 and 30 concerning fee refunds in the event of a withdrawal.

Applicants should clearly state the reasons for their remittance request at the time of withdrawal. With reference to the national interest, the FIRB will retain its discretion not to refund fees where the decision to withdraw is not clearly linked to the above factors.