gutnick family feud

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    Gutnick family feud

    22feb03
    A BITTER family feud is headed to trial with mining magnate Joe Gutnick suing his diamond exploring sister for $14 million over a disputed loan.

    Pnina Feldman, founder of the diamond exploration firm Diamond Rose, had with her husband Rabbi Pinchus Feldman sought to have the matter heard in a Jewish religious court.

    But after four years of trying to recover the loan from the Yeshiva College, the Sydney school run by Rabbi and Mrs Feldman, Mr Gutnick has taken his case to the NSW Supreme Court.

    The dispute stems from a $5 million loan Mr Gutnick gave the school in 1994 at a time when it owed the Commonwealth Bank $24 million and was at risk of closure, both parties to the case have said.

    In exchange for the loan, Mr Gutnick was made the mortgagee of a number of Yeshiva's properties in Bondi.

    Last year, he tried to sell the properties to recoup his money but the Feldmans sought an injunction to block the sale.

    At the time Mr Gutnick was believed to have been offered $8.5 million for the Flood St blocks.

    Now the rabbi and former president of the Melbourne Football Club is seeking to recover his $5 million loan plus interest, or a total of $14 million.

    Both parties said they regretted the case had come before the courts and Mrs Feldman said she remained hopeful of resolving it before a Jewish court of arbitration, out of the public eye.

    Mrs Feldman has already put the case to the Beth Din, or Jewish court of arbitration, in Israel, but the matter failed to be resolved.

    "As religious Jews that's where it should be and as family that's where we wanted it to be, not in the public eye," she said.

    "I'm ill from it, he's just doing this out of a vindictive vendetta.

    "I'm the older sister, my husband and I have done nothing in our lives other than help him.

    "For two rabbis to be fighting in the court I think is an absolute total disgrace for the Jewish people as a whole and for the individual family and it's just torn our family completely apart."

    Mr Gutnick's lawyer, Paul Ehrlich, said the Supreme Court case would determine whether Mr Gutnick was entitled to enforce the loan agreements.

    "Their claim seems to be that notwithstanding formal loan agreements and registered mortgages that the loan is only repayable if the Yeshiva are able to repay it," Mr Ehrlich said.

    A NSW Supreme Court hearing yesterday set a May 5 trial date.

 
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