ANZ chief ex­plains Oswal deal

Pilbara News - - Pilbara News - Shane Wright

ANZ chief Shayne El­liott has la­belled In­dian en­tre­pre­neur Pankaj Oswal a “colour­ful char­ac­ter” with whom the bank should not have done busi­ness over a $900 mil­lion loan for the Bur­rup fer­tiliser plant.

Giv­ing ev­i­dence to a Par­lia­men­tary in­quiry into the bank­ing sec­tor last Thurs­day, Mr El­liott de­fended the way the ANZ kept work­ing with Mr Oswal de­spite its con­cerns, say­ing it had to pro­tect share­holder in­ter­ests.

Mr Oswal and his wife Rad­hika left Aus­tralia last month, declar­ing them­selves “vic­to­ri­ous” in a court case in­volv­ing ANZ, re­ceivers PPB and Apache En­ergy re­lat­ing to the sale of the fer­tiliser plant. Mr El­liott said in late 2009, Mr Oswal ad­mit­ted to ANZ se­nior ex­ec­u­tives he had fal­si­fied key lend­ing doc­u­ments after a whistle­blower had raised con­cerns about the $900 mil­lion loan to­wards the Bur­rup plant.

De­spite an in­de­pen­dent le­gal team first clear­ing Mr Oswal, a per­sonal hand­writ­ing ex­pert backed the orig­i­nal claim by the mid­dle of 2010.

Pressed on why the ANZ kept work­ing with Mr Oswal, Mr El­liott said his bank had lit­tle choice be­cause not com­plet­ing the fer­tiliser plant would have hurt share­hold­ers.

Asked if the bank should have worked with Mr Oswal, Mr El­liott said: “No, we shouldn’t have.

“This is wrong, ab­so­lutely, and we’re not de­bat­ing that for a sec­ond.”

Pic­ture: Nic El­lis

Pankaj and Rad­hika Oswal left Aus­tralia last month.

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