Bendigo Bank - Great
The Bendigo Bank - Great Southern Plantations – Investor
Loan Saga has taken an unexpected turn.
The Banking Code Compliance Committee has found serious
and systemic conduct by the Bendigo Bank when it
aggressively collected loans from investors between February
2015 and February 2019. Some were bankrupted. Others were
forced into onerous payment arrangements.
This exposes the Bendigo Bank to penalties if ASIC
decides to prosecute.
Legally, this conduct is called using ‘undue harassment
and coercion’ and its use to pursue recoveries contravenes
the Australian Consumer Law and the ASIC Act. Financial
penalties of up to $360,000 per offence are available.
In this case, complaints should be made to ASIC as it is
the responsible regulator.
For more see
Bendigo Bank ‘named and shamed’ for
systemic mistreatment of Great Southern borrowers
The news is all bad for
Timbercorp investors lost their investments when
Timbercorp collapsed in April 2009.
But the investors did not lose their liability to repay
their loans with Timbercorp Finance. The loans remained due
and payable with interest.
For a while, KordaMentha who were appointed receivers of
Timbercorp Finance took no recovery action, as they waited
for an investor class action to be concluded.
Then, when the class action failed, they took recovery
action, but were stayed pending a High Court Appeal which
found that the investors could still defend the recovery
But now, the Supreme Court of Victoria has shut the door
on those defences, and the investors will have no choice but
to pay up or go bankrupt.
For my case note, click -
Timbercorp investors have failed in their ‘no loan’ defences
to loan recovery claims
Good news at last
for Great Southern Plantations Investors - Bendigo Bank loan
recovery claims can be beaten!
Not a lot has gone right for investors in the 43
Agricultural Investment Schemes promoted by the Great
Southern Plantations Group between 1998 and 2008.
This is a summary of the calamity:
- They invested in timber, beef cattle, wine grapes,
almond and olive projects. Yes, their investment was tax
driven - the money invested was tax deductible
immediately. But it was also an investment - they
expected to receive their money back and good profits on
their investment over the 10 to 12 year term of the
- Many investors used borrowed money to fund their
investment. They took out a loan from Great Southern
Finance (another group company), which then on-sold
their loan to the Bendigo and Adelaide Bank.
- It all came to an untimely end in 2009, when the
Great Southern Group collapsed and the projects were
wound up because they had run out of money to continue.
- 22,000 of the 52,000 investors joined in a class
action against the liquidator and the Bank to be
compensated for their failed investment and to be
relieved of their loan obligations. The class action
failed and a settlement was approved on 11 December 2014
in which the loan deeds were acknowledged as valid and
- Now, the Bendigo and Adelaide Bank is pursuing the
investors through the courts for repayment of their
loans plus default interest (at 14.5% pa), even though
the projects have failed and all money invested was
lost. This is causing hardship and distress for many
- The good news is that the Bendigo Bank can be
beaten. In August last year, an organic olive grove
investor successfully defended a loan recovery claim.
The investor was pursued for a debt of $24,490 plus
interest of $42,079.32. He decided to fight the claim,
and succeeded because the Bank's documentation was
deficient. The Court found that there was no evidence
that the Bank had paid anything to purchase the loan
from Great Southern Group, and many other deficiencies
If you would like to read a full account of the decision,
click - What is the best way for a Great
Southern Plantations investor to defeat a loan recovery
claim by the Bendigo and Adelaide Bank?