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Lawyers tried to throw out Opes Prime case

Lawyers tried to throw out Opes Prime case

Two former Opes Prime directors will stand trial on dishonesty charge over their roles in the collapse of the stockbroker firm, despite an attempt by lawyers to have the case thrown out.

FORMER Opes Prime directors Anthony Blumberg and Julian Smith will stand trial on dishonesty charge over their roles in the collapse of the stockbroker firm, despite an attempt by lawyers to have the case thrown out.

The two former directors will appear in the Victorian Supreme Court after both pleaded not guilty to four charges brought by the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC).

Smith's counsel, Mark Regan, told the Melbourne Magistrates Court there is no evidence Smith "definitely" knew the full scale of the financial problems facing Opes Prime. The Sydney Morning Herald reports the lawyer argued there is no proof that Smith dishonestly kept that information from the broker's financier ANZ in the days leading to the collapse.

Blumberg and Smith are both charged with four offences of breaching their duties as directors of Opes Prime and associated companies.

ASIC alleges that on 20 March 2008, shortly before Opes Prime collapsed, Blumberg, Smith and their co-director, Lirim (Laurie) Emini, signed financial documentation with ANZ Bank to obtain a term loan for OPSL and its parent company, Opes Prime Group Limited (OPGL) and pledged the companies’ assets as security to meet the obligations of Leveraged Capital.

Blumberg, 43, did not contest his committal in the Melbourne Magistrates’ Court and was ordered to appear in the Supreme Court on 21 March 2011. Smith, 48, was committed in the Melbourne Magistrates’ Court and was also ordered to appear in the Supreme Court on 21 March 2011.

Emini was committed to stand trial in the Supreme Court on 26 charges arising from the collapse of Opes Prime on 28 February this year.

Magistrate Luisa Bazzani said she decided "without difficulty" that SMith should face trial on four charges of breaching his duties as a director of two companies in the Opes Prime group.

Last week the court heard that ANZ gave Opes Prime a loan on 20 March 2008 in a bid to enable it to return $95 million worth of shares belonging to mining identity Normal Seckold, the SMH reports. It was alleged that in return, the bank was given additional security over Opes Prime's assets.

ASIC prosecutor Mark Gibson told the court there was evidence Smith was "fully aware of the insolvency of Opes Prime" on 19 March. He argued that this meant it was dishonest of him to sign a certificate stating that the company was solvent as part of the loan agreement with ANZ the following day.

On 27 March, SMith, Emini and Blumberg put the group into administration after Steinberg called in the loan.


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