Bank accused of $42 m fraud

by Chris Griffith
Published 2 June 1996 in The Sunday Mail


my face


A report alleging the misappropriation of $42 million of property securities and currency by a major Australian bank was about to be aired in Parliament and a legal action was looming, the Enterprise Council said yesterday.

Executive director Geoff Moss said the alleged illegalities were "the worst case of fraud involving the misuse of public trust by a major bank since deregulation in 1984".

The Enterprise Council which is controlled by a Queensland-based board, was formed in 1991 to represent companies, community organisations and individuals, and to lobby state and federal governments.

For legal reasons, the identities of the bank and the complainants cannot be reported, but the case involves a foreign currency loan and a series of properties -- one in Queensland.

Mr Moss, a Gold Coast resident, has been living in Melbourne for five months helping to prepare the controversial 330-page report.

He said in 1984 an Enterprise Council member consolidated his previous borrowings into a single loan of around $500,000 secured by five properties in Queensland and Victoria.

"The borrower believed he had repaid the loan within three years, but he was unaware that the bank had taken out the loan in foreign currency. Nevertheless in 1989 the bank confirmed the loan had been repaid."

But Mr Moss said two years later the bank denied all liabilities had been extinguished. The bank, according to Mr Moss, sought over $1 million for foreign currency loss fluctuations.

"Three month later, the amount sought had escalated to around $2 million. Our investigation reveals that our client had overpaid the bank by $2 million because there had never been a foreign currency loan".

He said the Council had begun negotiations with the Victorian Treasury seeking, among other things, the legal reinstatement of the properties. He was planning similar negotiations with Queensland Natural Resources minister Howard Hobbs.

He said the report was completed last week and would be released early this month.

"We believe the community will be outraged at the finding of this report. It will require the immediate attention of governments to restore confidence in the banking industry, and the integrity of public office."