Elliott named in fraud case: Bankers charged with conspiracy involving Elders-IXL

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JOHN ELLIOTT, the former high- flying Australian entrepreneur, was named in a court charge yesterday as being part of an alleged conspiracy to defraud Elders-IXL, the large brewing and agricultural company that he headed in the 1980s.

Mr Elliott himself was not charged yesterday. The allegation against him came in charges laid against two banking figures following an investigation by Australia's National Crime Authority into alleged international fraud dealings.

One of the men, Michael Woods, treasurer with the Bank of New Zealand in Sydney, was arrested at his Sydney home and charged with conspiring with eight others, including Mr Elliott, to defraud Elders-IXL of Adollars 66m ( pounds 27m). The alleged fraud was described as involving payments disguised as foreign exchange transactions.

The second man charged was a former Bank of New Zealand employee.

The court appearances of the two men followed days of drama in which Mr Elliott and several other former Elders executives had taken out injunctions against the National Crime Authority to temporarily restrain it from investigating them.

Mr Elliott is best known in Britain for his takeover in 1986 of Courage, bringing it into the Foster's empire, which he had earlier acquired in Australia. He made a bid for Allied-Lyons in 1985, but was blocked by the Monopolies and Mergers Commission.

The empire he built around Elders during the Eighties later diminished under debt, and Mr Elliott lost control of the last vestiges of it, the Fosters Brewing Group, last year.

On Tuesday, he accused the National Crime Authority and the director of public prosecutions in Victoria of conducting a 'relentless and unremitting campaign' against him for the last three and a half years. 'These bodies have colluded in an attempt to blacken my name,' he said.

The authority's investigations are understood to have focused on foreign exchange dealings during the Eighties involving Elders, the Bank of New Zealand and other New Zealand companies.