NSW Developer Donations: Tycoon denies he held sway over MPs (1999)

Australia's Newspapers

Tycoon denies he held sway over MPs

Australian, The (Australia) – Tuesday, September 28, 1999
Author: CLAIRE HARVEY
MILLIONAIRE developer Lang Walker yesterday denied claiming he had the political contacts to swing government approvals for land deals.

Mr Walker was the victim of a campaign of “forensic blackmail” by former business partner Bob Hogarth, Mr Walker’s counsel told the NSW Supreme Court.

Alec Shand QC said Mr Hogarth, who is suing Mr Walker for $48 million damages over a failed land deal, had acted “maliciously” in pursuing the tycoon.

Mr Hogarth has alleged Mr Walker falsely claimed in the early 1990s that he could ensure the NSW Government approved the development at Helensburgh, south of Sydney.

Mr Hogarth also alleges Mr Walker “used” the joint venture to make $220,000 in donations to the NSW Liberal, Labor and National parties just days before the 1995 State election.

Mr Hogarth alleges that Mr Walker said: “Don’t worry about the political side, I’ve got both sides covered.”

But in a statement read to court yesterday, Mr Walker denied making the remark.

“While Mr Hogarth portrays me as cajoling him to submit to the deal, the position was that he was trying to persuade me and not the other way round,” Mr Walker said in the statement.

Mr Shand told the court that Mr Hogarth’s legal team had engaged in unreasonable legal tactics to force Mr Walker, whose fortune is estimated at up to $315 million, to settle the case.

Summonses to produce documents had been served on Mr Walker and other Walker executives at their homes as late as 9.45pm, Mr Shand said.

“A campaign of vindictive behaviour arising from a desire to injure and embarrass forms part of what we submit is a form of forensic blackmail,” Mr Shand said.

“It’s designed to attempt to force Mr Walker into a form of settlement of these proceedings.”

Mr Hogarth is suing Mr Walker, Walker Corporation chief executive Peter Dransfield and assorted Walker companies.

He alleges Mr Walker and Mr Dransfield breached their fiduciary duty in relation to a failed joint project to develop land at Helensburgh in the early 1990s.

Mr Shand said in August 1997 lawyers acting for Mr Hogarth had proposed calling off the joint venture and “forgiving” any debts owed.

Mr Shand said this offer was rejected by Mr Walker’s lawyers — provoking a threat from Mr Hogarth’s solicitor, Tony Gye.

“We’re going to throw so much shit at Lang Walker and Peter Dransfield that they will beg Bob to stall the case,” Mr Gye said, according to Mr Shand.

Edition: 1
Section: Local
Page: 003
Record Number: AUS-19990928-1-003-4259364V10
Copyright, 1999, Nationwide News Pty Limited

 

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