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Oswals and ANZ close to settling case

AAP logoAAP 17/08/2016 By Megan Neil

Pankaj and Radhika Oswal are close to settling their legal battle with the ANZ bank, but are unlikely to end up with the $1.5 billion to $2.5 billion they wanted.

AAP understands the bank and former Perth couple have reached an in-principle agreement as settlement talks continue.

Details of the settlement will likely be kept confidential but it is expected to be well below the sum the Oswals were seeking over the forced sale of their Australian fertiliser business.

The Oswals wanted at least $1.5 billion and as much as $2.5 billion in damages from the ANZ and receivers PPB Advisory, as part of a complex case involving numerous claims and counter-claims.

They argued the $US560 million sale of their 65 per cent Burrup Holdings stake in 2012 represented less than half its true value and the bank was simply interested in getting the debt the Oswals owed covered.

The Oswals this week finalised a confidential settlement with one of the buyers, US oil and gas group Apache Corporation, while talks continue with their former co-shareholder, Norwegian chemical company Yara.

This week's settlement talks with the ANZ came as Mrs Oswal took the stand in her duress case against the bank.

Mrs Oswal claims the bank pressured her into signing a guarantee over $US568 million in debts to prevent her husband going to jail for fraud over falsified security documents.

On Wednesday she told the Victorian Supreme Court: "There was no other way out. I had a gun at my head."

Mrs Oswal said then ANZ chief risk officer Chris Page told her there were people at the bank who believed she was also involved and she too could go to jail.

She testified that during the December 2009 meetings, ANZ group general counsel Bob Santamaria told her lawyer: "Do you realise that both of them could go to jail and their children would become orphans."

Mrs Oswal said her husband did not want the bank to expose his role in the fraud, nor did the ANZ want it to come out.

Mr Oswal has also been accused of misappropriating more than $150 million in Burrup Fertilisers money, part of which was spent on Perth mansions, luxury cars and his wife's vegetarian restaurant chain.

The Oswals fled Australia in December 2010 after the ANZ demanded its loans be repaid and brought in receivers.

They returned in April this year for the ANZ stoush but have been barred from leaving Australia until a separate court case with the tax office is resolved.

It is understood part of any funds from further settlement deals will be used to pay out the couple's tax bills.

The case is expected back in court on Monday.

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