Crikey has this story about Canberra man Stan Stergiou beating the banks.
2. How Stan Stergiou beat the bank
By Misha Ketchell
It’s a story too good to be true. After a legal stoush spanning 14
years, 71-year-old Greek immigrant Stan Stergiou has beaten off an
attempt by world’s biggest bank to repossess his Canberra cream-brick
home – even though he hasn’t made a single payment on his $160,000
mortgage since 1991.
In making his decision, Canberra judge Ken Cripsin called Stergiou a
“legal missile” and couldn’t resist playing up the similarities
between Stergiou and Darryl Kerrigan in The Castle. “The proceedings
have been protracted, torturous and attended by a comedy of errors
sufficient to inspire the producers of the 1997 film, The Castle, to
consider making a sequel,” Justice Crispin is reported in today’s
But this is more than a case of life imitating art – Stergiou beat far
worse odds than his fictional counterpart. Kerrigan had a lawyer.
Stergiou represented himself in court against Citibank. English was
Kerrigan’s first language, Stergiou’s is Greek. And while Kerrigan had
his health, Stergiou is a 71-year-old diabetic who says he’s got “one
foot in the grave” and gets up at 4am most mornings to check his
Which is why he was up this morning at 6:30am when producers from A
Current Affair and Today Tonight were on the phone begging him for
exclusive rights to his story. He’ll be talking to Ray Martin tonight,
he told Crikey. “I’ve had phone calls from other media. Channel Nine
asked me not to abandon them. They tried to get the story with Ray
Martin. I said I’d to it.”
Stergiou said he hasn’t seen The Castle but he was pleased by Justice
Crispin’s comparison: “He did it the same way? Good on him. You get
very few people among us to stick to their guns. Citibank had no
basis, no claim.”
Stergiou said he took out the mortgage on his home after his travel
agency collapsed. He stopped making mortgage repayments when Citibank
debited his accounts for amounts that he hadn’t authorised. A 14-year
legal battle ensued as the bank tried to repossess his house. It ended
when Stergiou went to court to try to file some documents and
discovered the part of Citibank taking legal action against him was a
deregistered legal entity.
“When I sent a letter, and took an affidavit and documents to the
court to file, the registry refused me and accused me of doing the
wrong thing,” he said. He said he didn’t know it at the time, but he’d
just won his case.
“All proceedings for or against a deregistered company are a nullity,”
found Justice Cripin, the judge who also presided over the
controversial murder case at the centre of Helen Garner’s latest book,
Joe Cinque’s Consolation.
“Justice Crispin I think is a wonderful man,” Stergiou told Crikey
this morning. “Within five minutes he’d chucked them out at the door.”
And athough the fight is putting a strain on his marriage – Stergiou
and his wife are fighting for the first time in more than 40 years –
he’s not finished with the people he calls “these untouchables in
Sydney” yet. He’s now pursuing Citibank for damages.
“I want to tell all the families out there to beware of banks. They’re
merciless, they’re gutless, they’ve got no Christianity in them.”
And Australia’s best know celebrity agent, Harry M Miller, writes:
It’s happened again… “life imitating art.” I’m sure the producers of
The Castle could write a script for this. There are lots of sub-plots
and although there are lots of good lawyers there are also lots of
dumb ones who need to invest in digital hearing aids from Videx so
that they can accurately listen to what their clients are saying. I
don’t think there is a full length movie in it, but there is certainly
a half hour comedic docu-demo staring Stan himself. The old story that
reminds us all to take a close look at the paper work and flag some
critical dates. Good on you Stan.