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Second bank faces class action over Storm

A second major bank is facing a class action over the Storm Financial collapse despite the corporate regulator today announcing its own legal action.

Proceedings against Macquarie Bank would be issued tomorrow on behalf of about 150 former Storm clients, Levitt Lawyers senior associate Stephanie Carmichael said.

The claim was similar to that against the Commonwealth Bank, which was launched in July.

Ms Carmichael said about 400 clients were involved in the cases, with some subject to both.

Both class actions would go ahead despite the Australian Securities and Investments Commission today launching legal action against CBA, Macquarie, Bank of Queensland and Storm's founders, Townsville couple Emmanuel and Julie Cassimatis.

ASIC will allege the banks were involved in an unregistered managed investment scheme.


In a second proceeding, it is seeking compensation on behalf of two investors from BOQ, the owner of a Townsville franchisee of the bank, and Macquarie, claiming breaches of the banking code and the Trade Practices Act and unconscionable conduct.

Ms Carmichael said Levitt Lawyers had discussed its proceedings with ASIC and the class actions would not be affected.

A case conference for the CBA claim was held last Friday and the parties were expected back in court early next year.

"We're aggressively pursuing that claim," she said.

CBA has admitted limited liability and negotiated a compensation deal for 2000 people.

Those who accepted the CBA deal did so on the understanding they would still benefit from any action by ASIC.

ASIC filed its claim in the Federal Court today after the banks failed to meet last Friday's deadline to reach compensation deals with about 14,000 investors caught up in the company's $3 billion collapse in early 2009.

"ASIC is bringing these actions to seek compensation for investors who have suffered losses," chairman Tony D'Aloisio said in a statement.

"ASIC has maintained that a commercial resolution is the preferred approach. Unfortunately discussions did not result in a satisfactory outcome and it has been necessary for ASIC to bring these proceedings."

BOQ managing director David Liddy said the bank would "vigorously" defend the court action.

The Queensland-based financial planner had lured investors to borrow against their homes and use margin lending to buy shares, which collapsed during the global financial crisis.

Some investors, including many retirees, lost their homes in the fallout. The banks were criticised for approving the loans.