Oswal mansion: Federal Court rules mortgage void, demolition to go ahead

Peppermint Grove council could repossess the Oswal's mansion.
Peppermint Grove council could repossess the Oswal's mansion.
The unfinished mansion in Peppermint Grove.
The Oswal's unfinished Peppermint Grove mansion.
Peppermint Grove council could repossess the Oswal's mansion. Peppermint Grove council could repossess the Oswal's mansion. The unfinished mansion in Peppermint Grove. The Oswal's unfinished Peppermint Grove mansion.

BULLDOZERS can be ready to demolish Pankaj and Radhika Oswal’s unfinished Peppermint Grove mansion at dawn on October 1 now the Federal Court has ruled a mortgage over the unfinished property is void.

“I now fully intended to put out a tender for the demolition in the next couple of weeks,” Shire of Peppermint Grove chief executive John Merrick told the Western Suburbs Weekly.

The Oswal’s unfinished, Indian-style mansion has become an eyesore to neighbours since the couple left Perth after receivership hit their Pilbara fertiliser plant in 2010.

The council continues to allege the Oswals owe $108,000 in rates, while the Australian Taxation Office claims the couple owe $198 million in tax and the State Administrative Tribunal has ordered the couple demolish the mansion by September 30.

Last Wednesday, the Federal Court in Melbourne found Mrs Oswal had defrauded creditors when she transferred the mansion’s mortgage to a Dubai holding company whose only director was her brother in 2010.

Mr Merrick said the court’s finding meant creditors could now serve notices on the Oswals to recover claimed debts, and he expected a notice for the allegedly owed rates would have been served by the end of last week.

He said there had been no responses to multiple requests for the rates in the past, but creditors could now threaten the mansion’s sale, and the disposal of the Oswal’s Dalkeith home, to obtain their cash.

Any successful demolition tender would held in readiness by the council for use on October 1, but it would have to address price, traffic management, noise and dust reduction, and reports the mansion had caused dilapidation of neighbouring homes.

It was reported the council’s legal fees from chasing the Oswals had contributed to an 8 per cent rates rise.

“I’d like to clarify it isn’t contributing this year, and we have a rates rise of about the CPI, and we are not anticipating anything from the Oswals that changes our financial situation,” council president Rachel Thomas said.

Staff said a planned $230,000 surplus could be used for any unexpected costs, before councillors agreed on a 2.35 per cent rate rise in the 2016-17 budget, including $925,000 on capital spending, at last week’s meeting.

The ATO would not comment on how the court’s decision would affect its claim.