Top Australian bank settles dispute with Indian tycoon

top-australian-bank-settles-dispute-with-indian-tycoonMELBOURNE: Flamboyant Indian billionaire couple Pankaj and Radhika Oswal have reached a settlement with a top Australian bank in a 2.5 billion dollar dispute over the collapse and sale of their fertilizer business.

The Australia and New Zealand Banking Group (ANZ) on Thursday told the Australian Securities Exchange it has reached a settlement with the Oswals relating to Burrup Fertilizers.

“The settlement, the terms of which are confidential, resolves the AUD 2.5 billion (USD 1.9 billion) claim made by the Oswals with ANZ having previously recovered all outstanding loans made from 2005 to the Burrup/Oswal groups totaling around AUD 1.3 billion,” an ANZ statement said.

“The net pre-tax impact of the settlement will be reflected in an additional provision charge of approximately AUD 145 million to be taken at the Full Year 2016 results,” it said.

But a spokesman for the Oswals said this figure “does not reflect the size of the settlement but the Oswals are bound by confidentially to not disclose the details.”

The bank’s chief executive officer Shayne Elliott said “ANZ does not accept many of the claims made in court and we completely reject the allegations made against our staff.”

“However, we believe the settlement is the right decision for shareholders bearing in mind the residual risks in a case of this size and complexity,” Elliott added.

According to reports, Oswals have settled their dispute with Australian Taxation Office over a tax bill estimated to be over AUD 100 million.

The spokesman said the couple was now planning to leave Australia after the court lifted departure prohibition orders linked to their tax issues.

On ANZ settlement, the spokesman said “They (Oswals) were very satisfied with the settlement. They were very pleased to be able to put the facts before the court and they’re pleased that it’s over.”

“They won’t be staying in Australia. They are now planning their futures,” he said.

He said the Oswals “find it curious that the ANZ rejects all the allegations yet is prepared to pay a significant sum to stop them.”

Oswals had been suing the bank and receivers PPB for as much as AUD 2.5 billion over ANZ’s seizure and sale of their majority stake in Burrup Fertilizers in 2010 as part of a dispute over AUD 1 billion the couple owed to the bank.

In turn, ANZ had also accused Oswals of misappropriating AUD 150 million towards their personal use to furnish their laving lifestyles with luxury cars, boats and a sprawling mansion in Perth.

ANZ and the Oswals will cover their own legal costs, which could extend to the tens of millions.–PTI

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