'Controlling' Groves sold shares without wife's consent

FORMER ABC Learning co-founder Eddie Groves was a "controlling" husband who took advantage of his former wife's financial naivety and bragged about forging her signature, lawyers for his former wife have alleged.

Barrister Patrick O'Shea said his client, Le Neve Groves, who co-founded with her husband the childcare empire that collapsed in 2008, was an intelligent woman with a PhD but she was "not financially sophisticated".

He told Brisbane Supreme Court he would produce evidence showing Mr Groves was domineering and handled all their financial affairs.

Dr Groves was originally suing Mr Groves, who is now bankrupt, as well as seeking $33 million damages from three banks, Citibank Singapore, CitiGroup and BT Securities, for allegedly selling her ABC Learning shares in 2008 without her consent.

The legal action is now directly solely at the banks, though Mr Groves has asked to be present throughout the hearing to protect his "reputation".

Mr O'Shea said the Groves marriage was an "unequal relationship" and the banks should have made sure Dr Groves knew what was happening with her shares instead of leaving it to Mr Groves.

He said Mr Groves sold Dr Groves' shares to pay millions of dollars in debts.

Mr O'Shea said his client obtained "no real financial benefit" from the transaction.

He said witnesses would give evidence about Mr Groves bragging he had practised her signature to make sure he could forge it correctly.

"She does not recall these transactions and believes some of the signatures on the documents are not hers," he said.

"She has suffered undoubted loss."

Mr O'Shea said some of the transactions took place while the Groves' were separated.

He also said the actions were voidable if Dr Groves was under undue influence from her husband.

The trial, in a courtroom with close to 20 lawyers working the case, is expected to run for about four weeks.


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