'Fraud victim' says no strained relationship with bank
A MAN who claims he was duped out of millions of dollars by two Sunshine Coast men says he had an excellent relationship with his bank and it was not pressuring him to pay down his $11 million debt in the wake of the global financial crisis.
Wilhelmus van Zetten denied he had a "strained relationship" with Westpac as he told a Brisbane District Court jury he planned to use some of the money from the sale of his Yalanga Station to repay loans.
The property was valued at $40 million in 2007, but sold to a company called Nexis Holdings Ltd in 2010 for $25 million in cash and shares.
Nexis directors Rahoul Ray and Erwin Walter Filler are accused of duping Mr van Zetten and his wife Maureen into trading the farming property for "worthless" shares in Nexis, which was delisted after it floated on the Frankfurt stock exchange.
Nexis's main business was mass-producing cheap housing from recycled waste products and its operators told Mr van Zetten it had a deal in China, the court heard.
The Crown alleges they tricked the van Zettens into making payments of $900,000 to the Commonwealth Bank and more than $1 million in stamp duty.
Mr Ray and Mr Filler have pleaded not guilty to eight counts of fraud.
Under questioning from Mr Filler's defence counsel Greg McGuire and Mr Ray's barrister Damian Walsh, Mr van Zetten dismissed emails showing him telling the accused he was having difficulties with his bank as the global financial crisis reached Australia.
He conceded he needed to "restructure" his business dealings because the GFC might deplete the value of his property portfolio.
Westpac held a mortgage over Yalanga, Mr van Zetten said.
"This was manoeuvring again in order to get the money," Mr van Zetten said of why he told Mr Ray and Mr Filler his relationship with Westpac was "strained".
"It was posturing, manoeuvring to try and get Mr Ray to release the $900,000 to us as a cash guarantee.
"I had the support of Westpac until April, 2011 and I stick by that."
Mr van Zetten told the court he had no concerns over the value of the shares the men offered him as part payment for his property.
He said he spoke to another Sunshine Coast businessman who had struck a similar deal with the accused and that conversation left him feeling confident about the deal.
"I never doubted the shares had value," Mr van Zetten said.
Crown Prosecutor Jason Robson last week told the court Mr Ray and Mr Filler offered to pay for half the negotiated $14 million Yalanga deal in company shares.
The van Zetten family's Suncoast Pastoral Company previously received over $5 million in cash towards the purchase of Yalanga in regards to the deal.
The $5 million went to paying down bank debt.
The trial before Judge Julie Dick continues.
- ARM NEWSDESK