Court has heard that Indian couple Pankaj and Radhika Oswal fled the country when they knew their game was up.
Apache Corporation’s barrister Stewart Anderson QC has said that the Oawal’s ran a fraudulent operation and planned to “Sail back” to India when it ended.
“When they saw the game was up they left the country in their private jet and let everything unravel.”
Mr Anderson has said that the Oswals concealed the cost overruns in the construction of the Burrup ammonia plant to the amount of $US490 million.
The Victorian Supreme Court heard on Monday that ANZ bank and other financiers were told that the construction contract was priced at $US320 million even though Mt Oswal knew that the cost will overrun by as much as $US300-400 million more than that. Mr Anderson said that Apache would have stopped the gas supply agreement if it had known about the cost overrun. Mr Anderson also claimed that the only way the Oswals were able to complete the construction of ammonia plant was by hiding extra costs.
“They did so because the plant was making a staggering amount of profits which meant that they were able to skim moneys off the top and apply to the cost overruns and their own lifestyle.”
The court also heard that more than $150 million in Burrup Fertilisers’ money was spent on the couple’s Perth mansions including the unfinished “Taj Mahal on the Swan”, luxury cars, a private jet and Mrs Oswal’s vegetarian restaurants.
The court has heard that the misappropriation went out of control after December 2009 deal with ANZ which gave Oswals time to sell their shares.
“They knew time was running out and they made the most of the time that they had by taking as much as they could,” he said.
“It was still within their power to cover up their fraudulent scheme, sell their shares and head back to India, problem solved, after having stripped in excess of $150 million from the company.”
Mr Anderson has also told the court that he rejects the claims that Mrs Oswal was just a spectator in her husband’s business operations and has claimed that she knew exactly where that money was coming from.
The Oswals left Australia in December 2010, a few days before the ANZ appointed receivers to their Burrup business.
“Quite tellingly, just prior to this blowing up, they left Australia, which is not the conduct of someone who is honest we would say,” Mr Anderson said.
They returned in April this year and wanted up to $2.5 billion from the ANZ and receivers over the sale of their 65 per cent stake in Burrup Holdings.