The attorney for the Appliance Traders Limited (ATL) Group pension scheme yesterday gave evidence that the trust deeds and rules she reviewed did not stipulate that consent should have been obtained in writing for the 1992 and 1995 surplus allocation.
Lynda Mair, who is a partner in the law firm Patterson Mair Hamilton, was testifying under cross-examination in the billion-dollar fraud trial of three former ATL executives.
Patrick Lynch, the former chairman of the pension scheme, along with Catherine Barber, the former general manager of the scheme, and Dr Jeffrey Pyne, the former managing director of Gorstew Limited - the holding company for ATL boss Gordon 'Butch' Stewart - are on trial for allocating $1.7 billion in net and withdrawal surpluses to members of the scheme without Gorstew's consent and allegedly using forged letters to deceive Stewart that consent had been obtained.
However, responding to questions from defence attorney Deborah Martin, Mair initially testified that she only reviewed the trust deed that was in place at the time of the 1995 distribution.
"I gave an opinion, pointing out that I had not seen any document relating to 1992 [surplus distribution], but that in relation to the 1995 documents I reviewed, I formed the view that the consent of Gorstew Limited was required," she told Martin.
Mair, however, changed her story a short time later, after she was confronted with a copy of a June 2007 letter she wrote to Barber.
"So it is correct that you read the trust deeds for 1992?" Martin questioned.
"Yes," Mair replied.
"So you made a mistake in your evidence?" Martin pressed.
"Yes," the ATL attorney again replied.
The trial has already heard evidence of co-mingling within the ATL Group, where Stewart and other directors of Gorstew Limited also sat as directors of the ATL Pension Fund nominee company.
However, Mair testified that while she was not aware of this, it would not have influenced her opinion as to whether consent was required for the 1992 and 1995 surplus distributions.
"Would you say that participation in the decision [taken] by the directors [of the ATL pension fund nominee company] could indicate consent in the decisions that were taken?" Martin asked.
"I don't think so," Mair replied.
She will continue giving evidence when the trial continues today.