Former Opes clients launch action against ANZ
Thursday, May 15, 2008/
A mining industry executive and former client of Opes Prime has launched legal action against ANZ Bank and is seeking the return of shares he lost when Opes collapsed in April.
In a statement of claim lodged with the New South Wales Supreme Court, the managing director of Conquest Mining, John Terpu, claims he maintained an equitable interest in the 15.2 million Conquest shares he provided to Opes as collateral for a margin loan. ANZ, acting as secured creditor of Opes, seized and has started selling a large parcel of shares to recover debts owed to it.
The claim alleges that Terpu’s equitable interest was created through representations made to Terpu by former Opes director Laurie Emini, who told Terpu that he retained beneficial ownership of all shares deposited with Opes under its margin lending agreement.
The claim said ANZ was put on notice of Terpu’s equitable interest because it would have had to conduct due diligence on Opes Prime in order to determine it was receiving clear title to shares lodged with the broker as collateral.
The claim also alleges ANZ breached the Corporations Act by not lodging substantial shareholder notices over its Conquest shares. Had the bank lodged these notices, the claim states that Terpu would have known that ANZ was claiming a relevant interest in his shares.
Law firm Slater & Gordon, which is representing Terpu, will lodge a similar statement of claim on behalf of another Opes client, Melewar Steel Ventures. The claim also alleges Opes executives made representations on several occasions stating that Melewar retained would retain beneficial ownership of its shares.
Slater & Gordon principal lawyer Van Moulis says there are three main planks to his clients’ claims.
“We say that our clients are not bound by the AMSLA [the margin lending agreement used by Opes] due to the alleged misrepresentations by Opes Prime.”
“We say that bank had actual or constructive notice and accordingly the bank industry is subject to our clients’ interest.”
“The failure of the bank to lodge such shareholder notice supports the view that our clients retained beneficial interest in the shares.”
Moulis is also preparing to launch a class action on behalf of clients of failed stock broker in the coming weeks and is still keen to talk to other Opes clients.