The story of failed managed-investment scheme Great Southern was a “familiar one of greed”, the Supreme Court of Victoria was told this week.

The long-awaited class action brought by more than 20,000 investors in the failed forestry group began this week, the court packed with more than 30 lawyers representing investors, Great Southern directors and also the Bendigo and Adelaide Bank, which has been implicated in the case after lending investors money for the scheme.

Plaintiffs are seeking to have the loans declared invalid and their funds returned.

Counsel for around 2000 investors, Gary Bigmore QC, told the court the Great Southern investment represented a triumph of greed “over diligence in the transparent offering of fair investments”.

Counsel for Great Southern founder John Young, Paul Santamaria QC, said these claims were nonsense and investors had gone into the scheme with their “eyes wide open”. Product disclosure statements had been approved after legal advice from law firms such as Freehills.

Operators of other managed investment schemes in the agribusiness sector, such as failed Tasmanian forestry group Gunns and Wilmott Forests, are also expected to face class actions from investors.

The Great Southern case is expected to run until March next year.

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