Westpac sues former customer after A$11m account 'mistake'

Westpac sues former customer after A$11m account 'mistake'

Australian bank Westpac has taken legal action against a former customer in a dispute over A$11 million that was "mistakenly" transferred to his account over a two-year period.

The bank has launched legal action against Victor Ollis, an estate agent from New South Wales, who admits to writing cheques after finding the money in his account but denies any fraud.

According to press reports Ollis told the Supreme Court that if Westpac can't do its job properly "it's the bank's responsibility".

The court heard how Ollis had an automatic sweeper facility with the bank that topped up his business account using funds from his personal account.

These transactions should have been stopped after his personal account was overdrawn in February 2004, but due to a bank glitch the transfers continued out of Westpac's own funds.

Westpac honoured cheques totalling about $11 million written by Ollis between June and December 2005.

Counsel for Westpac, James Stevenson, told the court that Ollis started out by writing a cheque for $40,000. But by the end of 2005 Ollins was writing cheques for more than 10 times that amount, but did not deposit funds into either of his accounts during the period.

The mistake was eventually discovered in January 2006 and the bank launched legal action to recover the missing funds.

The bank is also suing Ollins' partner, Gail Shields, over A$4.8 million that he transferred to her account. Shields is defending the case on grounds that she believed the money she received from Ollis was legitimately his.

Both Ollis and Shields have had their assets frozen by the NSW Crime Commission.

The case continues.

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