Direct Factory Outlet founders David Wieland and David Goldberger are demanding an inquiry into ACCC chairman Graeme Samuel, The Australian reports.
Graeme Samuel had some $50 million invested via a blind trust in Austexx, the owners of Direct Factory Outlet which collapsed after the DFO South Wharf Melbourne project stalled, with creditors owed $450 million. National Australia Bank was one of four major creditors to Austexx with St George, Bank of Scotland International and Suncorp-Metway making up the bulk of the $450 million owed by Austexx, however Graeme Samuel, through his position with the ACCC is perceived to have a conflict of interest between his public duties and personal business interests despite the chairman recusing himself from the National Australia Bank takeover bid for AXA in August.
At the time, the ACCC issued a statement:
“Australian Competition and Consumer Commission chairman Graeme Samuel has indicated this morning that he will recuse himself from ACCC deliberations concerning the proposed NAB/AXA merger.
Mr Samuel advised that he considered this course of action necessary to remove any perception of a conflict of interest arising from current issues concerning his family’s investment in the DFO shopping centre chain.
Both NAB and AXA have been consulted and expressed no concern at Mr Samuel’s continuing involvement.” the statement read.
Despite Mr Samuel recusing himself from the NAB-AXA deliberations, David Wieland and David Goldberger are demanding an inquiry through their lawyer Leon Zwier of Arnold Bloch Leibler into the handling of the NAB takeover of AXA Asia Pacific. The pair appear concerned about the timing of events with Mr Samuel stepping down from NAB-AXA deliberations on August 18th, with NAB and the other three financial institutions extending DFO’s credit the next day for the South Wharf development.