Investors in failed Australian agribusiness group Willmott Forests launch class action, allege documents for three forestry managed investment schemes failed to disclose all risks
DUNEDIN, New Zealand
January 20, 2012
– Investors who pumped about AU$150 million into forestry schemes run by the failed agribusiness group Willmott Forests have according to the Sydney Morning Herald launched a class action against the company, its directors and the Commonwealth Bank. The lawsuit is the latest fallout from the collapse of large plantation investment companies in the past three years, including Willmott, Timbercorp, Great Southern and Environinvest.
In court documents filed in the Federal Court just before Xmas, lawyers for the investors have alleged that documents for three forestry managed investment schemes failed to disclose all the risks attached to the investments. The investors have also alleged that Willmott overstated the value of assets including land and future wood sales and understated its liabilities "by failing to provide for the cost of future plantation maintenance work".
Ron Willemsen, a solicitor with Macpherson+Kelley Lawyers, filed the lawsuits on behalf of investors in three Willmot schemes offered in 2008 and 2009. The company, its directors and the bank have yet to file defences and a directions hearing is set for 14 February.