ONE of the final chapters in the long-running saga of the failed business empire of former millionaire Hunter Valley winemaker David James has ended with ANZ bank winning a claim for almost $14 million.
In a decision this week, the NSW Court of Appeal ruled Mr James was responsible for guarantees he gave ANZ to secure loans for his companies TLT Nominees, Newcastle Liquor Wholesalers, James Australia Group and Print National Nominees.
NSW's top court dismissed an appeal by the former James Estate Wines boss who accused ANZ of misleading and deceptive conduct when it got him to enter into a consent judgement in May 2014 that he owed $13.9 million.
The former high-flyer, who was named Hunter wine exporter of the year in 2005, claimed the bank got him to agree to owing the money by providing a "false understanding of the financial circumstances" of his companies.
Between June and November 2014, Mr James paid ANZ $2.17 million under the debt agreement, but three years later lodged a motion to have the order set aside.
Due to other court proceedings involving the same parties, the motion was not heard until June last year and was dismissed by Justice Michael Ball a month later.
Mr James then lodged an appeal against that decision and it failed on Monday.
The court heard the businesses, that operated as beverage wholesalers, defaulted on loans to ANZ in 2013 and the bank appointed accounting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) to investigate the companies' assets and liabilities.
That investigation relied, at least in part, on information provided by Mr James.
The dispute revolved around a May 2013 report by PwC, later appointed receivers, that detailed approximately $4.2 million in stock at a Homebush Bay warehouse, including $1.46 million of stock owned by TLT Nominees.
But the court heard that the "levels of TLT stock at the Homebush Bay warehouse as at 19 August 2013 were very different from the levels of TLT stock at that warehouse the subject of the PwC report in May 2013".
PwC later sold all the stock for $1.1 million and recovered $1.3 million in debts owed to the companies. Of this, ANZ was paid $2.17 million.
Mr James claimed he never would have entered into the original debt agreement for $13.9 million if ANZ had disclosed that the assets would be realised for well below what was owed.
He alleged ANZ was misleading and deceptive for failing to disclose there would be a substantial shortfall.
But the appeal judges - Justice John Basten and Acting Justices Arthur Emmett and Carolyn Simpson, found no misleading or deceptive conduct by ANZ and dismissed the appeal.
Mr James was ordered to pay ANZ's costs.
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