Accused: Nick Greiner.FORMER New South Wales premier Nick Greiner has admitted concealing his company’s involvement in a deal that has become the target of a $25 million bid-rigging allegation by a Swiss investment firm.
Pala Investments, a Swiss group controlled by Russian oligarch Vladimir Iorich, has accused Mr Greiner of using his positions in two companies to hoodwink Pala into selling a subsidiary for less that it was worth.
Mr Greiner chairs mining services company Bradken, which had expressed an interest in buying the subsidiary group Norcast in February 2011.
Bradken claims it was excluded from the sale process, after which US private equity group Castle Harlan made the purchase for $190 million and sold it to Bradken for $202 million.
In addition to his role at Bradken, Mr Greiner sits on the board of Castle Harlan’s Australian affiliate, CHAMP. He is also head of the federal government’s GST review.
Appearing in the Federal Court in Victoria, Mr Greiner said he had chosen not to ”promote” the fact that Bradken was ultimately behind the transaction, because the company had originally been rejected from a deal.
”Norcast had excluded us,” Mr Greiner said. ”So the notion that we would fly a Bradken flag over the transaction doesn’t make sense.
”It would have increased the risk of the transaction not happening.”
Pala claims that Castle Harlan was acting as an intermediary for Bradken, and that it would have asked for a higher price had it known Bradken was behind the deal.
Bradken chief executive Brian Hodges also gave evidence to the court over his involvement in the on-sale of Norcast.
When an email revealed he had passed on detailed financial information about a possible Norcast acquisition to people above him, he was forced to backstep statements that he had stopped ”pursuing” the purchase.
After Mr Hodges played down the importance of the email, counsel for Pala, Charles Scerri, QC, asked: ”So you just send meaningless information to people for the fun of it?”
Pala has filed similar claims against Castle Harlan in the Supreme Court of New York.
The case is continuing.
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