Perdaman Chemicals has widened its $3.4 billion legal battle over its collapsed coal-based fertiliser project in Collie, launching a Federal Court damages claim against India's second biggest banking group.
ICICI Bank is the lender to Griffin Coal, which is in turn owned by India's Lanco Infratech, and which reneged in 2011 on a 25-year deal to supply coal to Perdaman's planned coal to urea project.
Lanco had sought higher coal prices to help offset losses at Griffin, which it bought from the wreckage of Ric Stowe's debt-laden empire for $750 million in 2010.
In documents lodged in the Federal Court, Perdaman - which is running a separate similar action against Lanco - claims that ICICI deliberately "engaged in interference" in the financing of its fertiliser project as part of Lanco's push for higher prices.
This, Perdaman asserts, was also part of ICICI's attempt to gain secured creditor status above the rights of Perdaman.
The bad blood between the parties stems from a May 5, 2011 tour of Griffin's mine by Perdaman's financiers.
At the meeting, Perdaman claims that Lanco officials undermined its project by telling Perdaman's bankers it would tear up the coal supply agreement and seek higher prices.
"Each defendant (including ICICI and Lanco) used unfair tactics and acted in bad faith," Perdaman's statement of claim said.
"Perdaman was in a weak bargaining position and each defendant by their conduct exploited that position."
The Perth-based Perdaman claims it has already spent $195 million on its project, and wants at least $3.4 billion in damages under section 236 of Australian Consumer Law for the loss of the project.
ICICI did not respond to requests for comment. Lanco has in the past denied Perdaman's claims, and said giving security guarantees to ICICI was necessary to finance its purchase of Griffin.
Lanco has launched a counter claim and has raised doubts about the $195 million Perdaman says it has spent on its project to date, and questioned why Perdaman is seeking damages but still trying to enforce its contract.
The dispute has also ensnared the separate $1.2 billion sale of Bluewaters power station, which has yet to settle and has been delayed by Perdaman's legal actions.Bluewaters gets its coal from Griffin.