ALBURY businessman Allan Endresz is claiming a major victory in his long-running legal battle against the federal government.
The Federal Court yesterday set aside bankruptcy orders against Mr Endresz, his parents Jozsef and Dawn and business partner Bill Forge, just hours before a directions’ hearing which they feared would have crushed their 16-year fight.
Three judges unanimously agreed an appeal by Mr Endresz and co against a $70 million compensation claim which had been launched by the government could proceed.
In scenes reminiscent to the Australian movie The Castle, Mr Endresz and Mr Forge represented themselves in the Federal Court earlier this month in what could be an Australian first.
The case could be in its final stages, with Mr Endresz plotting a two-pronged attack in the ACT Supreme Court of Appeal or the High Court to secure $4.3 billion in taxpayers’ money.
Late last year, the ACT Supreme Court seemingly ended the legal saga when it ordered Mr Endresz and co to pay the federal government compensation, including $70 million, property and assets.
Mr Endresz, his parents and Mr Forge had been bankrupted in July last year and the November decision meant they could have lost their homes.
But an appeal against the Australian Securities and Investments Commission was launched and the matter went to the Federal Court.
A directions’ hearing on the appeal was due to be held yesterday afternoon.
But the Federal Court order of judges Edmonds, Gordon and Beach was issued earlier in the day, with reasons to be published at a later date.
“This was a crucial day today,” Mr Endresz said yesterday.
“We just needed the ability to get on the attack and we’ve got that now.
“We’ve been through the pain barrier, but now we can go full steam ahead.”
The Commonwealth has alleged Mr Endresz was culpable for the unauthorised transfer of $8 million of taxpayers’ funds into bank accounts of family businesses in 1998, including Davis Samuel Corporate Advisory Services.
He successfully defended himself against the charges and argued government negligence caused the transaction.
In response, Mr Endresz lodged a $4.3 billion counter claim about earning capacity he thought he forfeited when prevented from introducing a capital raising plan to financial markets.
The highly complex case was heard in the ACT Supreme Court in 2008.
Justice Richard Refshauge took five years to strike out the billion-dollar claim by Mr Endresz by finding the original $8.725 million payment had been void and illegal.
The judge ordered defendants to pay the Commonwealth almost $70 million in compensation.
Documents lodged late last year listed 88 grounds of appeal against the Supreme Court decision.
“We’ve previously said we were on the attack,” Mr Endresz said.
“We are now full throttle to beat the Commonwealth.
“We are free to go with a major appeal to overturn Justice Refshauge and get damages and costs.”
The potential payout to Mr Endresz could be a devastating blow to the federal government.
The case had been listed as a financial risk for the federal government for about four years before being “removed” from Treasury documents.