Pankaj Oswal is mounting a rearguard action against bankruptcy as the Australian Taxation Office opens a new front in a battle to get more than $6 million from the fallen fertiliser mogul.
With the elusive Mr Oswal believed to have no plans to return to Australia, his lawyers are expected to front the Federal Court next month in a bid to put his creditors back to the beginning of the forced bankruptcy process.
Commonwealth Bank took bankruptcy action against Mr Oswal after gaining a Supreme Court ruling last May that he owed more than $4.8 million under loan guarantees for his former private jet.
The tax office has supported the Commonwealth's bankruptcy push on the basis that it is allegedly owed more than $6 million in unpaid tax and interest for the 2008-09 and 2009-10 financial years.
After Mr Oswal lodged papers in the Federal Court to stymie the bankruptcy proceedings, the tax office launched a separate legal action against Mr Oswal.
The tax office claims to be owed more than $5.2 million in unpaid tax from 2009-10 and $46,126 from 2008-09. With penalty interest, the tax office's claim totalled $6.35 million at December 19.
That is miniscule compared to the $186 million the tax office is seeking from Mr Oswal's wife Radhika, who left Australia with Mr Oswal after the 2010 collapse of Burrup Fertilisers.
It was believed the Oswal family had moved to Dubai but their new address is unknown, creating headaches for Commonwealth Bank lawyers pursuing bankruptcy proceedings against Mr Oswal.
The bank gained orders from the Federal Court in July allowing the so-called substituted service of a bankruptcy notice on Mr Oswal by posting copies of the notices to two law firms in Perth that had acted for Mr Oswal, as well as to addresses in Punjab and Dubai.
A bankruptcy notice must be served on alleged debtors, giving them time to pay or challenge the notice, before a full-blown bankruptcy application can be lodged.
With Mr Oswal not having paid the Commonwealth Bank by mid-October, the financier lodged a bankruptcy application with the Federal Magistrates Court and obtained similar substituted service orders for these proceedings.
Mr Oswal is challenging the substituted service orders. If he succeeds in his challenge, Commonwealth will have to start again.
Justice Tony Siopis and Magistrate Toni Lucev have ruled the Federal Court should deal with both Mr Oswal's challenges and the bankruptcy application.Both will be heard on February 1.
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