Levitt Robinson is presently conducting negotiations with the ANZ Bank to recoup damages for farmers relating to ANZ’s acquisition of Landmark Operations’ Loan Book

Thousands of farmers have fallen victim to ANZ’s acquisition of Landmark Operations’ loan book and the unlawful downgrading of their securities for an ulterior purpose.

Corporate trustee, Permanent Custodians, acted as Trustee and Mortgagee for loans written by Landmark which took over from the disgraced Australian Wheat Board (AWB). ANZ had been a major shareholder of AWB, through a vast web of subsidiaries, numbering at least 261 distinct corporate entities.

From March 2009, Landmark Operations acknowledged to the Australian market that it was in difficulty however it continued to arrange and write loans for Permanent Custodians, some with 15 year terms, even though it had only assured funding for about 18 months. In breach of section 20 of the Property Law Act, 1969 and similar State Acts, borrowers’ debts were not lawfully assigned to ANZ Bank.

In December 2009, ANZ bought Landmark Operations loan book on terms which allowed ANZ to adjust the price by downgrading borrowers’ loans, through a claw-back provision to D and E grade securities.

ANZ did not properly notify Landmark Operations’ customers that it had taken over their debts from Landmark Operations. From March 2010, ANZ customers were induced to sign over to the Bank, being told that “everything would be rosy”. Other customers were told “sign or else” and those who refused to sign over were obstructed from obtaining payout figures to refinance away from ANZ. Permanent Custodians washed its hands of the matter and although on paper it was the lender, anyone who tried to refinance away from Permanent Custodians to a financial institution other than through ANZ were effectively blocked.

ANZ opened accounts and closed accounts for Landmark Operations, it transferred loan balances and terminated loans for many Landmark Operations Customers without their knowledge or consent. Landmark Operations’ branches were closed and Landmark Operations customers who did not want to deal with ANZ were headed off at the pass.

Whether the farmers had gone over to ANZ or not, the Bank purported to foreclose against their farms calling up loans, appointing receivers and bringing cases in Superior Courts. In some legal cases, ANZ Bank officers swore affidavits in support of applications to take possession of farmlands wrongly claiming to be acting under Power of Attorney from the Bank, which has since been demonstrated was not the case.

Too many farmers and their families have lost family farms, which are often irreplaceable, through an underhanded course of conduct adopted by ANZ Bank and Permanent Custodians.

ANZ now appears to be owning up to its “Bank Crimes” and is showing signs of wanting to make amends.

Levitt Robinson has uniquely prosecuted “Bank Crimes” for consumers of financial products and services, going places where ASIC has not gone and fears to tread.

We stand ready to represent you in negotiating with ANZ.

In order to have us represent you in attempting to reach an out-of-court settlement, please contact Senior Associate Stephanie Carmichael on 02 9286 3133 to discuss your claim. We will also require you to pay our estimated costs and disbursements of $5,500 (GST incl) to enable us to advise you and to commence negotiations on your behalf with the Bank.