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Bell Group dealings back in the courts

Alan Bond’s dodgy dealings with Bell Group offshoots are set to be reprised in court.
Alan Bond’s dodgy dealings with Bell Group offshoots are set to be reprised in court.Picture: The West Australian

Alan Bond’s dodgy dealings with Bell Group offshoots are set to be reprised in the WA Supreme Court as creditors and liquidators wrangle over $1.8 billion of litigation proceeds.

At the heart of a litigation now engulfing Bell liquidator Tony Woodings is who did what after WA Inc deals delivered Mr Bond control of Bell Group and its cash-rich offshoots in 1988.

Justice Janine Pritchard said management services arrangements have been linked to a series of back-to-back loans that saw about $291 million flow from Bell offshoot JN Taylor to Bond Corporation Finance and Mr Bond’s Dallhold.

Justice Pritchard said a key factor was likely to be the existence of management services contracts between Bell and JN Taylor and whether Bell staff were involved in providing those services.

This dark piece of WA history is set to come under the microscope because of a legal bid by the Insurance Commission of WA to keep JN Taylor’s status as a creditor of Bell by virtue of Bell’s purported role in the back-to-back loans.

ICWA went to the Supreme Court in January after Mr Woodings revealed he was reviewing a ruling by former Bell Group liquidator Geoff Totterdell in the mid-1990s that JN Taylor was a $291 million creditor of Bell.

ICWA subsequently bought the debt from JN Taylor’s liquidators as part of a $200 million-plus campaign to recover about $140 million it had lost from Bell junk bonds it bought as part of WA Inc dealings in 1988.

JN Taylor yesterday joined ICWA in trying to stop Mr Woodings overturning Mr Totterdell’s $291 million debt ruling.

JN Taylor lawyer Mark Hoffman said Mr Woodings should not be permitted to review the original debt ruling 21 years later.

Mr Hoffman said some potential witnesses had died. “My client is endeavouring to locate people but we are having some difficulty,” he said.

He said courts found people’s ability to remember diminished after three years and “after 10 years it’s an abuse of process”.

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