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  • Banks
  • By Frank Pangallo
  • Today Tonight
  • 06/04/2006 Make a Comment
  • Contributed by: admin ( 61 articles in 2006 )
Be Grateful Today!
Corporate icons don't come any bigger than the NAB...a business worth 50 billion dollars...and for that reason. It wields enormous power and influence.

Right now, it's re-inventing itself though a massive campaign costing millions of dollars. CEO Ahmed Fahour admits it was an organisation that had a bad culture within and had lost touch with its customers. But it seems the nab isn't doing much to atone for its terrible sins of the past which wrecked the lives of ordinary, hard-working Australians who had put their trust...and life savings.. in them.

Associate professor Evan Jones, an economist at Sydney University has documented many cases where the NAB stands accused in court and in parliament of acting... unconscionably...unethically...and corruptly.

Professor Jones says getting justice against banks is almost impossible because the courts and judges seem to give them an easy run.

We have investigated three cases where the NAB has sent former valued and independently wealthy customers to the wall, leaving them penniless and dependent on welfare...but still fighting for some justice.

Their stories will shake your confidence in the fairness of our court system with extremely serious allegations about the bank's practices and conduct.

Sante Troiani wasn't even an NAB customer when he collected the bank's major ethnic business award in 1993 life couldn't have been any better then for the uneducated Italian immigrant made good his brick business was booming and he was worth one hundred million dollars. The award was the sweetener the bank needed to win him over and it worked.

The NAB gave him vast sums of credit but within six years the bank took him to the cleaners, convincing Queensland's Chief Justice Paul De Jersey that Mr. Troiani had defaulted on his loans and breached his terms, much hinging on bank evidence that wasn't challenged, according to Col Walker who's helping the Troianis.

"You have to ask yourself what the onus of proof means anymore," says Walker.

The company, which had been valued at 80 million dollars, was soon sold off by receivers for less than four million dollars. Then they bankrupted Sante and his wife Rita.

Retired NAB manager turned investigator John Salmon says the Troiani case is the worst he has seen in 18 years of investigating banking malpractice. He believes the bank devised a sting operation to deliberately bring down Mr. Troiani's business, an assertion denied by the bank.

Salmon has put together an intriguing paper trail, which reveals Mr. Troiani's business was not insolvent and should never have been put into receivership. He has also uncovered evidence of a secret account-or shadow ledger kept by the bank where large sums of money were siphoned of and never accounted for.

Queensland MP Chris Foley has tabled hundreds of documents containing John Salmon's serious allegations of corrupt and deceitful conduct by the bank Mr. Foley and Col Walker are determined to see justice prevail for the Troanis.

In the meantime, millionaires-cum-paupers Sante and Rita live in hope in a rented house. They get by on a pension, selling flowers from a small plot of dirt they lease, a far cry from the life of luxury they once led in Bundaberg.

Alex Zollo was once the biggest builder in Port Lincoln and worth 15 million he's bankrupt...the legacy of a legal dispute with the NAB over a personal injury insurance policy he was led to believe he had.

Alex says he never actually sighted the policy but his branch manager had assured him all was in place.

For five years, he paid his premiums. Then when he was hurt and unable to work he tried to lodge a claim only to be told there was policy at all.

It wound up in court where the judge found the bank had been negligent and had misrepresented themselves.

But even though it failed to produce any policy, the bank still won an appeal. The court accepted the bank's version that if there was any insurance it could have only been for a total disability. While Mr. Zollo was hurt, he wasn't permanently disabled, the bank then bankrupted him.

Ten years on Alex says he isn't giving up. He's still unable to work and is angry, especially after receiving bank statements that were not revealed at the time which show they did take his money, albeit for an unspecified insurance policy. Yet the bank through its solicitors still maintains there was no policy at all.

Alex says once he is discharged from bankruptcy later this year a he'll file criminal charges against the bank based on the new documents he's uncovered.

Alan McMinn and his wife Wilma blame the NAB for losing their gold coast childcare centre and everything else they owned.

The centre was booming when the McMinns were given the go-ahead by the bank to expand their facilities to accommodate babies when suddenly the NAB ordered work to stop because of bank management restructuring issues.

The McMinns say by the time the mess was sorted out and the extensions were finished, they'd lost a lot of business and fell into arrears.

The centre was valued at 2 million dollars when it was put on the market. However, the bank sold it off for just over one million dollars while ignoring a much bigger offer put forward by the McMinns.

"It doesn't make any sense at all. Why would they do that?" An emotional Alan McMinn still asks.

The McMinns are still fighting moves by the NAB to bankrupt them for $300,000.they are now looking for others around Australia to join them in a class action.

In the meantime, John Salmon along with Chris Foley and Col Walker say only a royal commission can force the banks to clean up their act.

"We must have faith in our system of justice. If we don't have that what have we got," says Col.

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