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Great Southern class action digs deeper

The barrister representing investors in the case of failed agribusiness company Great Southern said that 10,000 new documents have been uncovered that provide further evidence that the company misled investors. Source: ABC Rural

In what is Australia’s largest ever class action, more than 20,000 investors are seeking to recover money following the $2 billion collapse of the company’s managed investment schemes in 2009.

Justice Clyde Croft agreed to reopen the case and allow the possible re-examination of witnesses, based on the documents, which relate to the yield the company hoped to achieve from its timber plantations.

Former Great Southern managing director, John Young, told the court earlier this year that the company aimed to buy land that could produce 250 tonnes of timber per hectare.

Counsel for the investors, Garry Bigmore QC, said additional documents discovered recently by the liquidators will challenge his evidence.

“We now have a number of documents which really fly in the face of that defence,” he said. “We now have a number of documents which fly in the face of the due diligence defence in respect of those aspects.”

It’s not clear at this stage which witnesses may be called. However, Bigmore has indicated that the general manager of the company’s forestry division, Gavin Ellis, who wasn’t required to present evidence in the initial hearing, is of interest.

A spokesman for Justice Croft’s office said it is too soon to say how much the reopening of the case will delay judgement.