The Tasmanian Greens today warned that the ANZ Bank risked having blood on its hands over its role in the collapse of Gunns Limited.

Greens Forestry spokesperson Kim Booth MP said ANZ should do the right thing by forgoing its secured creditor status to ensure local businesses receive the money they are owed.

Mr Booth yesterday wrote a second letter to the ANZ Bank to ensure that the Board of Directors had considered the request he made last year for the bank to forgo its status as a secure creditor to the company. 

“The ANZ Bank was financially propping up the corpse of Gunns Limited over several years, at the same time as it was loaning money to local businesses to fulfil contracts for Gunns,” Mr Booth said.

“Businesses across Tasmanian were allowed and encouraged to borrow money to service Gunns, which the ANZ Bank should have known was trading insolvent.”

“In October last year I wrote to the ANZ Bank to ask that the Board of Directors consider forgoing secured creditor status, following a tripartisan vote supporting a Greens’ motion in the House of Assembly.”

“It was unclear from the bank’s reply whether the Board of Directors itself considered the request, or whether it was rejected out of hand at a lower level, and so I have written to them again.”

“The ANZ Bank risks having blood on their hands for the fact that many small businesses were operating under a false impression that Gunns was financially viable and would be able to pay its debts.”

“Those small business owners did not have the same level of access to Gunns’ balance sheets as banks had, so they should not be forced to pay for financial mistakes made by the big end of town.”

“By refusing to end their financial support for the pulp mill, the ANZ Bank was gambling with the money of local Tasmanian businesses in the knowledge that its own debts were safely secured.”

“A liquidators inquiry could help shed some light on whether Gunns was in fact trading while insolvent, and hence whether creditors are justified in pursuing compensation.”

First letter from Kim Booth MP to ANZ Banking Group (October 24, 2012)
Second letter from Kim Booth MP to ANZ Banking Group (21 February 2013)