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ANZ 'had gone nuts', says Radhika Oswal

AAP logoAAP 15/08/2016 By Megan Neil

Having finally achieved financial independence, Radhika Oswal thought the ANZ bank was "nuts" to expect her to sacrifice her wealth to get her Indian businessman husband out of trouble.

Raised in a very wealthy Indian family and wed at 18 to Pankaj Oswal in a marriage arranged by their traditional Hindu parents, Mrs Oswal's job was to look after her husband and family.

But she baulked when the bank wanted her to personally guarantee almost $US1 billion in debts by using her stake in the couple's Australian fertiliser business, even when Mr Oswal faced the possibility of going to jail over forged European loan guarantees.

It was completely unjustified and ridiculous for the ANZ to expect her to assume a personal liability for $US928 million, Mrs Oswal told the Victorian Supreme Court on Tuesday.

"I thought they had gone nuts or something and I wasn't going to be party to this," she said.

"I understood it involved my husband but that doesn't make me liable for his problems."

Mrs Oswal ended up agreeing to make herself personally liable for $US568 million in debts, but claims the bank pressured her into signing the guarantee to prevent her husband going to jail for fraud over falsified security documents.

Mrs Oswal said her 35 per cent Burrup Holdings stake was her most valuable asset and maintained the shares were worth more than $1 billion at the time, in December 2009.

Mrs Oswal said she fought to get the shares put in her own name, believing it was the wealth given to her under her marriage agreement as stipulated under the Indian law of stridhan.

Mr Oswal had not wanted to give her the shares, saying "people are going to say what's an uneducated housewife doing owning all these shares".

"Of course I was offended by that which just made me all the more adamant," Mrs Oswal said.

She was shocked and insulted when her husband handed over her share certificates to the bank in December 2009.

"I felt that my wealth had been taken away from me and given away without asking me," she said.

"I had to struggle a lot to get these shares in my name and to me this meant that I had a financial independence and identity for myself which mattered a lot to me."

Mrs Oswal gave evidence that she had no involvement in her husband's business, even when she was listed as a director of various companies.

Mrs Oswal was the sole member and chairperson of Oswal company Maruti Investments and was listed as being present at a 2006 meeting.

But Mrs Oswal said the signature on the minutes was not hers and she was not involved in taking out a Maruti loan with the ANZ.

The Oswals want up to $2.5 billion in damages from the ANZ and receivers PPB Advisory, arguing the $US560 million sale of their 65 per cent stake in Burrup Holdings in 2012 represented less than half its true value.

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