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ANZ Sued by Private Equity Lawyer for ‘Unfair’ Loan Conversion

Dec. 16 (Bloomberg) -- Jason Edwards, the chief lawyer at Clearwater Capital Partners LLC, sued Australia & New Zealand Banking Group Ltd. claiming his multicurrency loan was unfairly converted, boosting his interest payments.

Edwards’s loan value rose 47 percent to $4.2 million after the bank converted his U.S. currency and Japanese yen debt to the Australian dollar in November 2008 and May 2009, according to the lawsuit filed with the Singapore High Court. A closed hearing is scheduled today.

The U.S. dollar and Japanese yen were the worst performers among 16 major currencies against the Aussie in 2009, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The U.S. dollar declined against the Australian currency by 22 percent in 2009, while the yen fell by 24 percent.

“ANZ chose to convert my loans without my authority, with devastating consequences for me” and a windfall to the bank, Edwards, the Singapore-based general counsel of New York-based Clearwater, which invests in Asian distressed assets, said in court papers.

ANZ, based in Melbourne, said in a counter-suit that it was within its rights to convert the currency according to the loan contract and had informed Edwards.

Kevin Foley, a Sydney-based ANZ spokesman, said in an e-mail the bank would defend the case. Michael Palmer of Harry Elias Partnership LLP is representing ANZ. Edwards’s lawyer Suresh Nair from Straits Law Practice LLC declined to comment.

Edwards, an Australian, obtained the loan in 2006 to refinance his Queensland property, according to court documents. The interest on Australian dollar loans was higher than the rate on U.S. dollar- or yen-denominated debt, according to the suit.

“My interest liability has skyrocketed and I have taken on substantial foreign exchange liabilities,” Edwards said in the court papers.

The case is Jason Glenn Edwards v Australia & New Zealand Banking Group Ltd., S489/2010 in the Singapore High Court.

To contact the reporter on this story: Andrea Tan in Singapore at atan17@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Douglas Wong at dwong19@bloomberg.net

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