Clive Palmer’s Wife to Testify in QNI Collapse, Albeit Attempts to Hinder Proceedings

Anna Palmer, Clive Palmer’s wife and on-again off-again director and secretary of several of his companies, is to give evidence in Australian Federal Court as part of ASIC’s investigation against Palmer in the collapse of his now-bankrupt company Queensland Nickel. Palmer’s lawyers attempt to keep Mrs. Palmer from testifying in court and have launched a last-minute bid to stop the summons.

The Federal Court ordered that Mrs. Palmer be summonsed for questioning in her capacity as the sole director of her husband’s flagship company Mineralogy, after hearing she replaced her husband as the sole director of the company in October last year, but the directorship was swapped back to Mr. Palmer on February 27, just days after the court ordered she be summonsed for questioning.

Anna Palmer
Prior to these recent events, Anna Palmer was also made director of Mineralogy, which held QNI shares, in January 2016, just days before its subsidiary Queensland Nickel sacked more than 200 workers and went in to voluntary administration.

While Palmer claims his wife shouldn’t be summoned to court as she is no longer a director, QNI liquidators said the fact the directorship had changed hands was no reason to cancel the summons, arguing the examination could still continue in relation to her time as director.

Queensland Nickel collapsed in 2016, leaving some 1000 workers without jobs, and shadow-director Clive Palmer has refused to compensate the workers ever since. ASIC is still trying to piece together the chain of events which led to the collapse of the company, and is seeking to investigate and question many of Palmer’s close circle, like his nephew Clive Mensink, who was CEO of Queensland Nickel at the time of its collapse.

Anna Palmer also held the roles of secretary and director in many of Palmer’s other companies, such as China First Coal, Canada Acquisition Group and Waratah Coal. Other members of the Palmer family also held similar senior positions; Mr. Palmer’s daughter Emily Palmer was appointed as a Waratah Coal director for a day on January 9 ,2016, while son Michael Palmer ceased his director role on January 10, 2016.

ASIC’s investigation, following a liquidators’ report for QNI, determined wrongdoing, but Palmer has insisted he was not responsible for QNI’s debts in excess of $100 million, including more than $73 million owed to around 800 employees who lost their jobs. However, many private and personal expenses were made or authorized by Palmer from QNI, either to his other businesses or to his friends, family and political party.

The administrators have also found payments made to Palmer-related entities and companies, saying: “We have identified significant transactions in value and quantum entered into by QNI that appear to be both uncommercial and director-related transactions. These transactions could be recovered in a liquidation scenario.”

At-the-time Queensland Shadow Environment Minister Stephen Bennett said; “The problem for Queensland taxpayers is the potential clean-up costs at the site and in particular the sludge ponds which contain a toxic mix of chemicals and heavy metals”, which he claimed would be more than $300 million.

Many are now calling on ASIC and on Justice Andrew Greenwood to deny Palmer’s bid to have his wife kept away from the investigation, as the collapse of QNI had devastating consequences for Townsville and Northern Queensland, which are still recovering from the financial blowouts of QNI. We will continue to report as this story evolves.

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