Harry Triguboff considers the government's decision to exclude Meriton from the Lachlan's Line project in North Ryde to be a personal affront worth suing for.
The billionaire head of Australia’s largest apartment developer is suing the NSW government over what he claims is insulting conduct with respect to a residential property project in north Sydney.
Housing giant Meriton was excluded from the 3000-apartment North Ryde development situated on Sydney’s North Shore due to the company’s hiring of a senior government executive closely associated with the project.
Simon McGovern was previously head of UrbanGrowth NSW – the government body responsible for the $150 million development in Sydney that goes by the name of “Lachlan’s Line.”
In February McGovern quit the position of UrbanGrowth development director to assume the role of Meriton’s general manager of new projects and planning.
While the NSW government gave Meriton the opportunity to make an argument for inclusion in the project, it eventually opted to exclude the developer just over a week before the March 28 state election.
“UrbanGrowth NSW places paramount importance on transparency and fairness,” said a government spokesperson.
A letter sent to Meriton by UrbanGrowth cited in particular what could be “viewed as a conflict of interest or be perceived as giving Meriton an unfair advantage over the other shortlisted candidates” as reason for the exclusion.
The octogenarian billionaire head of Meriton Harry Tribugoff has since filed a lawsuit with the Supreme Court against the NSW government over what he claims to be an insult against his good name.
“Why have I taken the government to court? Because they insulted me,” said Tribugoff to The Australian Financial Review. “I won’t let them get away with it.”
Tribugoff is dismissive of any perceived conflicts of interest.
“What is an unfair advantage?” said Triguboff. “I was the biggest bidder. By a long way.”
While Triguboff is adamant that the chief goal of the legal action is to restore his damaged reputation, he is also seeking monetary compensation from the NSW government for his exclusion from the Lachlan’s Line project.
“The main thing is my name,” said Triguboff. “Damages is a second issue.”
Meriton founder and managing director Triguboff is currently the second richest person in Australia as well as Australia’s richest man, with Forbes estimating his net wealth to be AUD$7.4 billion as of January 2015.