FORMER New South Wales premier Nick Greiner has denied allegations of bid-rigging brought against him by an investment company controlled by a Russian oligarch.
Pala Investments, registered in the Swiss canton of Zug but ultimately controlled by Russian billionaire Vladimir Iorich, is suing Mr Greiner in a lawsuit also targeting the mining services company he chairs, Bradken, and the company’s chief executive, Brian Hodges.
In a lawsuit filed in May, the Swiss group alleges Bradken, Mr Greiner and Mr Hodges conspired with US private equity group Castle Harlan to buy cheaply an Australian subsidiary, Norcast Wear Solutions (NWS), which competed with Bradken.
However, in a response filed with the court on Tuesday, Bradken, Mr Greiner and Mr Hodges denied their ”commercial dealings” with Castle Harlan broke Australian competition law.
In addition to his role at Bradken, Mr Greiner sits on the board of Castle Harlan’s Australian affiliate, CHAMP.
While Castle Harlan is not a target of the Federal Court lawsuit, Pala last week filed a similar claim against it in the Supreme Court of New York.
In the Federal Court, Pala alleges Bradken and Castle Harlan reached an understanding that Castle Harlan would buy NWS, which makes liners for grinding mills, and then on-sell it to Bradken. Castle Harlan bought NWS in July last year for $190 million and that day flipped it to Bradken in a deal that earned it $US25 million.
Mr Greiner and Mr Hodges told the court Bradken learnt from Goldman Sachs that NWS was for sale in February 2011 but believed that it was excluded from the sale process because it was a direct competitor.
Bradken informed Castle Harlan about its interest in NWS and gave Castle Harlan a deposit towards the purchase of NWS on the same day the private equity group agreed to buy the company, they said.
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