Fund manager gets recommendation for approval for house next door to burnt mansion

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The planning panel is expected to inspect the Northwood property on Tuesday.

The Rossi family owned their almost 5000-square-metre waterfront estate for more than 60 years before they sold it late last year.

It last traded in 1961 when the late family matriarch Mary Rossi purchased it for £16,500 on the recommendation of friend and fellow Northwood local, acclaimed artist Lloyd Rees.

The Northwood house as it was when it was sold late last year by the Rossi family.

The Northwood house as it was when it was sold late last year by the Rossi family.

Rossi and her late husband Theo were for decades well known among the old Catholic families of the lower north shore, given their 10 children. Rossi was also known for her pioneering work founding Mary Rossi Travel, championing the rights of women to work outside the home while raising a family, and as one of the first women in Australia to host her own television show, Woman’s World.

The 1915-built plantation-style manor with tennis court, orchard and boat shed was one of Northwood’s oldest houses before it burnt down, and ranked among the largest waterfront estates on the lower north shore before Chen bought it. Once consolidated with Chen’s estate next door it would create a more than 7500-square-metre parcel.

Chen’s business interests in Australia have mainly stemmed from his fund manager and Chinese-backed lender Acapital, which in 2012 became one of the first groups behind the Significant Investor Visa fund.


In 2016, Chen launched a bid to register the first Chinese bank in Australia, Aoyin, however, despite having raised $150 million from about 20 private investors, the proposed bank failed to gain approval after concerns were raised with the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority.

Aoyin was told it would not meet the “fit and proper” requirement of a bank licence because two of the Hong Kong investors, Kin Chung Chan and Shui Hing Fong, had previously been convicted of 12 charges of defrauding banks, for which they were sentenced to four years in jail.

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