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Kisimul claims evidence proves Bendigo theft allegation

Farmer database owner Kisimul Holdings alleges a former employee and Bendigo bank subsidiary Rural Bank stole its data. Photo: Paul Rovere Farmer database owner Kisimul Holdings alleges a former employee and Bendigo bank subsidiary Rural Bank stole its data. Photo: Paul Rovere

Kisimul has lodged new evidence with the NSW Supreme Court that it alleges proves a former employee and Bendigo and Adelaide Bank stole its farmer database and planned to use it to pitch to new borrowers.

The evidence – obtained by subpoena by the data company from the bank, its subsidiary Rural Bank and analytics company Prismatik – captures emails, records of databases and who accessed them, including board presentations identifying the potential to win $550 million in new loans with the data.

Combined with an affidavit from Prismatik managing director Rob Morris that states records in a Rural Bank database called Oculus he had seen appeared identical to Kisimul's database, chief executive Adam McNeill said the evidence is sufficient to prove the banks had illegally accessed its data.

"It has been a long and tortuous process extracting the evidence we knew would categorically prove our case," said Mr McNeill.

"Kisimul was extremely confident Rural Bank and Bendigo Bank had its asset, were using it to grow their business and the evidence recently presented to the court tells the story," said Simon Butler, the chairman of Contivio, who has bankrolled Kisimul's court action and now holds a half-share of Kisimul.

Kisimul alleges Thomas Craig Simms, its former director of technology, via companies held in his wife Sonia Simms' name, illegally retained access to its database and tried to use it to continue doing work for Rural Bank after he left Kisimul in September 2013.

Mr Simms, Sonia Simms and Rural Bank, and three employees of the bank named as defendants, including former CEO Paul Hutchinson and former head of marketing John Marshall, deny all allegations in the 18-month-long case, which is yet to reach a formal hearing, due on June 20.

"Oculus was just Kisimul rebadged and the bank not only accessed our information, they and Bendigo Bank were actively annotating it with their data," Mr McNeill said.

In one email dated July 8, 2014, Mr Simms asks Mr Morris to "delete and destroy any copies of KG2 [Kisimul] data you may have" in light of "proceedings commenced by KG2". In the email Mr Simms said the bank has a valid licence, but it may no longer be valid.

Presentations subpoenaed

Kisimul also lodged Rural Bank board presentations it obtained from subpoenas. It claims they include plans to use Kisimul's data to target 130 farms in the Mount Gambier region of South Australia which could offer a "potential debt pool" of $16.7 million. The presentation extrapolates this potential to all 33 Rural Bank regions to a $551 million pool.

The presentation says the data used was bought from Alick Maps by Clear Position – a company owned by Tom Simms' wife, Sonia Simms. Kisimul claims the data was, in fact, its own.

"The board presentation clearly establishes their motivation for taking our assets," said Mr McNeill. "Moreover, all of this occurred after the directors of Rural Bank were formally put on notice [that they would be liable if they used Kisimul's data] by our lawyers in March 2014."

Bendigo chief Mike Hirst has denied the allegations and cited an investigation of its records it asked KPMG to conduct which found the bank had not accessed or used Kisimul's data.

But Mr Butler said the latest evidence shows "multiple Bendigo and Rural Bank executives had significant portions of Kisimul's database; he and KPMG may want to revisit their initial body of work".

Bendigo and Adelaide Bank declined to respond to the latest allegations.

"These issues will be tested during the trial and we put our faith in that process, rather than responding to these injudicious comments made on behalf of the plaintiff," a spokeswoman said. "Our previously expressed position remains unchanged.  The bank continues to deny that it has any liability to the plaintiff."

At a Supreme Court hearing in Sydney last week, Justice Robert McDougall heard counsel for the defendants had only looked at evidence Kisimul submitted 18 months ago to support its claim in February.

"Given the bank hadn't even looked at the data we had provided at the time they did their forensic examination, they either have a strange sense of intuition or simply gave KPMG the clock and asked for the time," said Mr Butler.

Author: Shaun Drummond

Source: The Sydney Morning Herald

Last modified onTuesday, 08 March 2016 05:19

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