Deniliquin and Murray Shire councils could recoup hundreds of thousands of dollars after a court ruling.November 9, 2012 4:43am
Deniliquin and Murray Shire councils could recoup hundreds of thousands of dollars of ratepayers’ money after two landmark rulings that could have world-wide ramifications.
Deniliquin Council lost hundreds of thousands when it invested almost $3 million in Rembrant and Lehman Brothers prior to the 2008 global financial crisis (GFC).
On Monday the Federal Court of Australia ruled that three organisations involved in the Rembrant investments must pay the councils back their losses, plus interest.
Those organisations were ratings agency Standard & Poor’s (S&P), investment bank ABN AMRO and Local Government Financial Services (LGFS).
Deniliquin Council lost $466,613 from one $500,000 Rembrant investment alone.
Murray Shire Council lost $933,225 through a $1 million Rembrant investment.
However, no one knows how much the councils may receive — or when they will see a cent.
The local councils have joined with other organisations in the past four years, pursuing lawsuits to try and recover the money.
Deniliquin and Murray were among 12 councils to purchase complex investments known as constant proportion debt obligations (CPDOs).
These investments were arranged by ABN AMRO, given a AAA rating by S&P and sold by LGFS.
In her judgment, Justice Jayne Jagot labelled the AAA rating as ‘‘misleading and deceptive’’, and said the CPDOs were ‘‘grotesquely complicated’’.
The organisations were ordered to each pay back one-third of the amount lost, plus interest.
The decision is likely to have global implications, especially in Europe and the US where similar products were sold to banks and pension funds.
Deniliquin Mayor Lindsay Renwick said the ruling was a ‘‘big win all around’’.
He said the councils had ‘‘invested wisely’’, but ‘‘unfortunately it went wrong’’.
‘‘Every dollar that we don’t lose is a dollar that we can spend on our town,’’ he said.
‘‘That’s very good news for us.’’
However, there is not a $466,613 cheque in the mail just yet. S&P said it intends to appeal the decision.
When asked how long that could take, Deniliquin Council manager finance Tony Tonta answered, ‘‘who knows?’’.
‘‘It could be another 12 months, 18 months, two years.’’
And when the money does arrive, there is no telling how much there will be.
The councils had a litigation funding arrangement with IMF Australia Ltd, which means IMF will take a portion of the cash.
‘‘We will be lucky if we get half of that $466,613 back,’’ Mr Tonta said.
Deniliquin Council also had a significant development in its court case against Lehman Brothers in September.
The council was part of a class action involving 72 councils, churches and charities who sued Lehman Brothers for around $250 million, claiming it breached contracts and engaged in misleading and negligent conduct.
Justice Steven Rares ruled that the parties are entitled to compensation, but the amount is yet to be finalised.
Deniliquin Council originally invested $2.45 million in Lehman Brothers, $450,000 of which is yet to mature.
It is uncertain how much of that will be recovered.
Deniliquin Council lost $372,000 of the $2 million that has either matured or cashed out.
Mr Tonta said they had actually done ‘‘fairly well, when compared to initial estimates of losses’’ from the ill-fated investment.
There is also no indication yet of when and how much of the lost money will be returned to Deniliquin Council.
Leukaemia diagnosis for Shepparton boy Travis Lamont, 17, hits his family hard.
Yarrawonga Football Netball Club senior footballer Jeremy O’Brien celebrated his 200th senior Ovens and Murray Football Netball League game against the Wodonga Bulldogs on Saturday.
The trip to Deakin Reserve pitted the fourth-placed Bulldogs up against sixth-placed Demons in a vital match to consolidate a finals berth.
Wemba Wemba, Ngandjon-jji and Yorta Yorta man Clayton Murray-Mitchell is planning a two-day festival in Moama featuring Archie Roach and Kevin Kropinyeri.
Sergeant Dale Simm of Rochester police is warning the public to be wary of phone calls offering all sorts of great prizes.
100 days at Tongala Primary.
Mark Grainger cannot believe his luck after suffering a heart attack on the day a new drug was approved to be administered by paramedics.
A man who attempted, but failed miserebly, to rob the Tocumwal Pie Shed is still on the run from police.
District residents judge the top releases from the Heathcote wine region during the second annual Heathcote Wine Show on the weekend.
Cobram Barooga Cycling Club president takes his talents on teh world stage for masters competition.
A top-three finish is on the cards for the Deni Rovers after they knocked off Jerilderie on Saturday.
Innovative irrigators are being encouraged to apply for a 2014 Rural Water Award and the chance to win a $2000 cash prize.
Three Benalla residents are speaking up to bring the issue of youth homelessness into the spotlight.
Discover unbelievable local deals from local businesses every week in the Goulburn and Murray Valley area with Leapon.com.au!
Search properties for sale or rent across North Central Victoria and Southern NSW. Visit your local website for local homes....
Search for published and unpublished photos from McPherson Media Group newspapers and magazines. All our photos are available to purchase.
Place an advertisement in any one of McPherson Media Group's local newspapers.