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On Friday 30 May, Slater and Gordon commenced a class action on behalf of clients of Opes Prime (OP). The lead claimant is Imobilari Pty Ltd, the investment company of a Sydney businessman who has lost several hundred thousand dollars as a result of the Opes Prime collapse.

The class action seeks alternatively: the return of pledged securities; the return of equivalent securities; or damages and consequential damages.

The class action has been brought on behalf of more than 50 investors with total losses, in our estimate, of more than $100 million. At present, the class action is for the benefit of those people who entered a funding agreement with Commonwealth Legal Funding LLC, before the action was commenced.

The defendants to the action are Opes Prime, as well as ANZ Banking Group and Merrill Lynch (“the Banks”). The central allegations in the statement of claim are that:

  1. OP clients entered lending agreements with OP, having relied (at least in part) on misleading statements concerning the nature of those agreements (i.e. that the arrangements were ‘margin lending’ agreements in which clients retained beneficial ownership of shares); and
  2. The Banks were ‘on notice’ that OP’s conduct was misleading and consequently, should not benefit, to the detriment of OP clients.

The class action has been listed for directions before His Honour Finkelstein J in the Federal Court of Australia, in Melbourne, on 25 June 2008. At that time, directions for the preparation of the case are likely to be made by the court.

Slater and Gordon is also acting in a number of individual actions arising from the collapse of OP, which variously seek relief from OP, the Banks and also from stock brokers.

A copy of the statement of claim, which sets out the detail of the allegations in the class action, is available below.

Relevant documentation

Opes Prime Class Action Application (PDF, 332KB)
Opes Prime Class Action Statement Of Claim (PDF, 439KB)

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