21/02/2011 - 11:37

Forrest to appeal Federal Court decision

21/02/2011 - 11:37

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Fortescue Metals Group boss Andrew Forrest says he hopes to appeal a decision by the Federal Court that found he made misleading claims about infrastructure deals that never came to fruition.

Fortescue Metals Group boss Andrew Forrest says he hopes to appeal a decision by the Federal Court that found he made misleading claims about infrastructure deals that never came to fruition.

On Friday, the Full Bench of the Federal Court in Perth overturned an earlier dismissal of the Australian Securities and Investments Commission's 2009 case against Mr Forrest and Fortescue.

Chief Justice Patrick Keane, Justice Arthur Emmett and Justice Ray Finkelstein determined Fortescue had made inaccurate public statements in 2004 about "binding" deals with Chinese firms.

Mr Forrest told reporters on Monday he would seek leave to appeal the decision in the High Court.

Although he admitted he could have done things better, he reiterated that at the time he believed the deal was binding.

"When you look at Fortescue, which (at the time) was probably myself and a dog, ... we could have done so much better," he told reporters in Perth.

"We should have had lawyers and we should have had legal teams and whole departments, but we didn't.

"We were a start-up company. We had none of those resources and did the best we could, but we certainly believed a deal was a deal.

"When it is celebrated on Chinese media, signed off by the chairman of their company that under Chinese tradition never sign anything which isn't binding, then we could take that forward with strength."

Mr Forrest said that the fact that prices had not been set for the Chinese contracts did not mean that the agreements were not valid.

"In the development of projects of a national scale, feasibility studies are often conducted to determine the value of the contract on which both sides agree," he said.

"In that contract, the price would be determined by feasibility study.

"I look forward to pursuing that in the High Court."

Mr Forrest claimed the judgment was dangerous for the business community and that ASIC should be focusing their energy elsewhere.

"Even though families are falling foul of pyramid and real estate schemes, they have walked away and [ASIC] have pursued Fortescue in a mean, vengeful way," he said.

"Now, every decision that a board has to take will be prefaced by a string of legal 'weasel' words adding to the bureaucracy and inefficiency of our country."

STANDING BY BUSINESS. TRUSTED BY BUSINESS.

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