Class action against ANZ

Cate RocchiThe West Australian
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A group of WA farmers are preparing to launch a class action in the Federal Court of Australia in Melbourne against the ANZ Bank.

One farmer, who wished to remain anonymous, said moving their fight to Melbourne was part of its legal strategy.

The farmers all have loans with the ANZ Bank.

Many of them are in individual legal disputes with the bank, some of which include harsh revised loan conditions, the enforcement of onerous contract terms and truncated repayment schedules.

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The farmers are all believed to have originally borrowed through an investment scheme set up by an arm of the Australian Wheat Board called Landmark Financial Services.

Landmark Financial Services' $2.4 billion loan book and $300 million debenture book was sold to ANZ in 2009. ANZ's trustee is Permanent Custodians, a subsidiary of BNY Mellon Australia Limited.

One of the farmers, Williams-based Rod Culleton, met with lawyer John Walsh of Brannagh last week to discuss the action.

Dr Walsh said the farmers had a good case, but an action had not yet been issued.

Dr Walsh, of the Australian Constitutional Trust, resides in Norfolk Island but has a Melbourne office.

Mr Culleton said the group was preparing to commence a class action against the ANZ Bank and Permanent Custodians.

"We have formed a solid group and the class action will commence shortly," he said.

There are believed to be eight farmers planning the action including embattled Gairdner farmer, Frank Bertola.

Mr Bertola and Mr Culleton met outside the WA Supreme Court several months ago and have since become friends.

Mr Bertola said he believed central to the action was an allegation of predatory banking.

The class action has the support of the Rural Action Movement and, according to a source who did not want to be named, the WAFarmers Federation.

The group plans to meet next week to discuss a legal strategy in Perth.

A website with information on the group's legal fight will be up and running shortly, Mr Culleton said.

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