ANZ chief explains Oswal deal
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.”
Pankaj and Radhika Oswal left Australia last month.