Leading US bankruptcy lawyer among passengers killed in Melbourne plane crash

A US law firm has confirmed that one of five men killed in a plane crash in Australia was a founding partner who litigated some of the most prominent bankruptcy cases in the US.

Munsch Hardt said in a statement that Russell Munsch had retired but was "one of the best of all time".

Mr Munsch died on Tuesday when a light plane in which he was a passenger crashed into a shopping centre shortly after take-off in the city of Melbourne.

The Texas law firm said Mr Munsch was involved in the 2001 bankruptcy proceedings for Houston-based Enron, one of the largest energy companies in the world before its collapse.

He also counselled Nelson Bunker Hunt, the oil tycoon whose financial dealings led to what is considered the largest personal bankruptcy proceeding in history.

The Australian pilot and four US tourists on a golfing holiday were killed when the twin-engine Beechcraft Super King Air crashed about 45 minutes before the Direct Factory Outlet mall in Essendon was to open, police minister Lisa Neville said.

The plane had taken off from Melbourne's second-biggest airport at Essendon, which is next to the shopping centre, on a flight to King Island, 160 miles to the south, Ms Neville said.

The US embassy in Canberra said four victims were Americans and Greg Reynolds De Haven and Mr Munsch were identified by their families on social media as two of the victims.

"The US embassy in Canberra and US consulate in Melbourne are working closely with local authorities," the embassy said.

"We stand ready to provide all appropriate consular assistance to the families of the victims."

The pilot was Max Quartermain, owner of charter company Corporate and Leisure Travel.

Police assistant commissioner Stephen Leane said no-one on the ground was injured.

The pilot reported a "catastrophic engine failure" moments before the plane crashed into a storage area at the rear of the mall, police said.

PA

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