Vikas Rambal.
Vikas Rambal.

Vikas Rambal, the one-time business partner of Pankaj Oswal, has settled a multimillion-dollar legal action against the taxman amid swirling doubts about his plans for a $3.5 billion fertiliser plant near Collie.

Federal Court Justice Alan Robertson dismissed the case between Mr Rambal and the Australian Taxation Office earlier this month after both sides agreed to a settlement.

The size of the settlement is unknown, though the ATO is understood to have been pursuing Mr Rambal over more than $20 million in unpaid taxes.

Mr Rambal, whose Perdaman Chemicals and Fertilisers wants to build a coal-to-urea plant at Collie, is believed to have argued he owed less than $10 million.

At the heart of the dispute was a massive settlement awarded to Mr Rambal last decade.

The settlement stemmed from Mr Rambal's exit from Burrup Fertilisers, the ammonia plant near Karratha in which he was an original stakeholder, and his bitter split with former business partner Mr Oswal.

The payout, which was made in 2007, was reportedly worth $87.4 million and involved Mr Rambal forgoing his 15 per stake in Pilbara-based Burrup.

In the wake of the payout, the ATO ruled that Mr Rambal owed the Commonwealth about $20 million in taxes.

Mr Rambal disputed the ruling, arguing that the ATO had over-estimated his family's assessable income - an argument that appeared to hinge on the timing of the Burrup payout.

Under the order issued by Justice Robertson last week, all future directions hearings were vacated and the action, started in October 2012, was dismissed.

A spokeswoman for Mr Rambal had little to say about the matter but noted the orders were granted with his consent and agreed to by the ATO.

The Federal Court case was the latest in a string of legal engagements waged by Mr Rambal, who spectacularly fell out with Mr Oswal while the two spearheaded Burrup in the 2000s.

Mr Rambal secured a confidential settlement in the wake of the bust-up but key details, including its value, emerged when he appealed against the ATO ruling.

He was also embroiled in a messy legal action against the Indian operators of Collie's Griffin coal mine, Lanco Infratech.

That action erupted after Lanco walked away from an agreement to supply Perdaman with coal for a proposed fertiliser plant and was settled last year when Lanco agreed to pay $7.5 million plus legal costs.

There are serious doubts about whether the Collie fertiliser plant will proceed given the lack of a coal-supply deal and financial backing for it.

The West Australian

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