COURT RULING THREATENS SUNLAND PROFIT

COURT RULING THREATENS SUNLAND PROFIT

SUNLAND Group’s profit for the last financial year is in danger of being all-but wiped out by a court decision against the company today.

The Victorian Supreme Court awarded special costs against Sunland in its case against developers Matthew Joyce and Angus Reed over a property deal that went wrong.

Sunland had claimed the pair deceptively persuaded it to pay a $14 million “introductory fee” for control of a sought-after plot of waterfront land in the emirate of Dubai in the Middle East.

Justice Clyde Croft dismissed that claim in June.

Today, Justice Croft issued a written ruling in which he found Sunland Group had proceeded with its claim for an “ulterior motive” and “the flaw in the case in this respect must have been readily evident to Sunland at the outset.’’

“Sunland chose to pursue . . . a hopeless case and one which must have been quite evidently hopeless to Sunland itself,’’ Justice Croft wrote in his ruling.

He awarded costs against Sunland, estimated by legal experts to be in the range of $10 million.

Publicly-listed Sunland Group recently recorded a profit of $14 million for FY2011-12.

Justice Croft’s ruling against Sunland Group was highly critical of company founder Soheil Abedian (pictured) and executive David Brown.

Justice Croft says claims were made in order to safeguard the company and its representatives against legal action in Dubai at the expense of Joyce, who has spent three years under house arrest in the United Arab Emirates.

Sunland Group has announced it will appeal Justice Croft's June decision on "extensive grounds", and is considering its options in regards to costs. The company’s share price was down 0.55 per cent to $0.91 late this afternoon.

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