25/05/2009 - 12:26

Banks appeal Bell Group $1.5bn ruling

25/05/2009 - 12:26

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The 14-year Bell Group litigation saga is set to continue after a group of 20 banks lodged an appeal against last month's ruling that the syndicate pay creditors more than $1.5 billion, the largest payout ever awarded in Australia.

Banks appeal Bell Group $1.5bn ruling

The 14-year Bell Group litigation saga is set to continue after a group of 20 banks lodged an appeal against last month's ruling that the syndicate pay creditors more than $1.5 billion, the largest payout ever awarded in Australia.

A spokesperson for law firm Freehills, which is representing the banks, confirmed an appeal had been lodged.

The bank syndicate includes Westpac, National Australia Bank and the Commonwealth Bank.

Last month, Western Australia Supreme Court Justice Neville Owen ordered the banks to pay Bell Group creditors around $350 million, as well as an estimated $1.2 billion in compound interest.

In addition, the banks were ordered to pay costs of $82.5 million.

The liquidators had claimed the banks took advantage of Bell Group in its dying days, securing lucrative assets in return for refinancing.

They alleged the banks knew the group's stable of more than 80 companies was close to insolvency.

Justice Owen found that the banks did not engage in any "conscious wrongdoing" or dishonesty in their handling of the matter.

But in his final judgment, he said "as a matter of principle" the plaintiffs appeared to be entitled to "compensation calculated on the full amount of primary monetary relief".

STANDING BY BUSINESS. TRUSTED BY BUSINESS.

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