Bell Group's long-running court dispute with banks ends in settlement

Australia's most costly and long-running court case involving Alan Bond's Bell Group has ended in a settlement for an undisclosed sum.

Australia's most costly and long-running court case involving Alan Bond's Bell Group has ended in a settlement for an undisclosed sum.

The case began in 1995 after 20 banks, including Westpac and Lloyds TSB Bank, provided various Bell companies with loans amounting to about $265 million.

The liquidators of the Bell companies claimed the loans had been improperly recovered by the banks when Bell collapsed in 1991.

In 2008, the banks were found by West Australian Supreme Court judge Justice Neville Owen to be liable as knowing recipients of the company's trust property.

The next year, Justice Owen ordered the banks to repay about $350 million in principal, which, with compound interest, resulted in a $1.66 billion award to the Bell companies.

In 2012, the Court of Appeal confirmed Justice Owen's findings against the banks and increased the interest rate. The banks paid about $718 million to the liquidators, but appealed the interest rate.

On Tuesday, the parties said the matter had been settled.

"Settling now is a pragmatic decision which will save further time and costs for all the parties involved," the banks' spokesman, John Vaughan of Herbert Smith Freehills said.

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