Two separate court actions involving Macquarie Bank might be combined following a meeting in Melbourne tonight (15 February).
Stewart Levitt, the principal of the Sydney firm Levitt Robinson that is running a class action against the Macqarie Bank with relation to the collapse of Storm Financial, will meet legal representatives from the Australian Investments and Securities Commission (ASIC) in Melbourne this afternoon.
In a "letter Before Suit" that was hand delivered to Macquarie Bank (MBL) CEO Wallace Sheppard on 24 November, Levitt Robinson principal Stewart Levitt said that each of his clients suffered significant losses as a result of the closing-out of margin loans, and that his clients consider Macquarie to be "responsible for them having incurred those losses".
ASIC has also commenced action against Macquarie, the Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA) and the Bank of Queensland (BoQ), alleging that the three banks were involved in an unregistered managed investment scheme operated by Storm.
Macquarie has described the actions of the regulator as unsustainable and speculative.
Speaking to Lawyers Weekly before flying to Melbourne, Stewart Levitt said that he would only seek to team-up with ASIC if it did not disadvantage the more than 200 investors of Storm who had signed up to his firm's class action.
"Principally, we will be talking with ASIC about whether our now separate proceedings can be held together, and where," Levitt said. "ASIC and our firm have had regular dialogue, and it has been more constructive than I expected, but there are still some issues that need to be discussed before we would combine the actions."
In particular, Levitt said he cannot understand why ASIC had instituted proceedings against Macquarie, while its action against the CBA was fairly limited in comparison.
Levitt Robinson filed a class action against the CBA and Colonial First State Investments in July 2010 over their respective roles in Storm's collapse in 2008, which left around 14,000 clients of the Townsville based company out of pocket to the tune of around $3 billion.
Both ASIC and Levitt Robinson's action against Macquarie commenced in the Federal Court this month. Levitt Robinson's action, before Justice John Dowsett in the Brisbane Federal Court, is next due for hearing in April.
Levitt said that his firm is also seeking to formally file class action proceedings against the Bank of Queensland by the end of April.