Palmer caught pay­ing fugi­tive nephew

The Weekend Australian - - THE NATION - SARAH ELKS

Clive Palmer has been sen­sa­tion­ally caught bankrolling his fugi­tive nephew Clive Mensink’s over­seas jaunt to the tune of $8000 a fort­night, even af­ter war­rants were is­sued for Mr Mensink’s ar­rest.

The for­mer fed­eral MP was con­fronted with the ev­i­dence in the Queens­land Supreme Court wit­ness box yes­ter­day, as he de­fended him­self against a bid by Queens­land Nickel’s liq­uida­tors to freeze $200 mil­lion of his as­sets.

Mr Palmer in­sisted he was pay­ing only Mr Mensink his le­gal en­ti­tle­ments, brush­ing aside the fact Queens­land Nickel has failed to pay sacked work­ers more than $70m in re­dun­dancy en­ti­tle­ments.

Mr Mensink was the sole reg­is­tered di­rec­tor of Queens­land Nickel when it col­lapsed last year, cost­ing cred­i­tors $300m and al­most 800 work­ers their jobs.

Yes­ter­day’s rev­e­la­tion that Mr Palmer’s flag­ship com­pany Min­er­al­ogy fun­nels more than $8000 every fort­night to the miss­ing Mr Mensink con­tra­dicts Mr Palmer’s sworn ev­i­dence to the Fed­eral Court in May.

At the time, a sick Mr Palmer clutched a vomit bag and said he was on mor­phine, as he tes­ti­fied that the reg­u­lar pay­ments to Mr Mensink stopped in March, when the two ar­rest war­rants were is­sued for con­tempt of court.

“I only ever in­structed (my com­pa­nies) to pay his en­ti­tle­ments and I re­solved that there are no fur­ther pay­ments to him and he should come back to Aus­tralia to an­swer any le­git­i­mate in­quiries,” Mr Palmer said un­der oath in May.

But Shane Doyle QC, for Queens­land Nickel’s liq­uida­tors PPB Ad­vi­sory, yes­ter­day showed Mr Palmer bank records that con­firmed the fort­nightly pay­ments to Mr Mensink con­tin­ued even af­ter the war­rants were is­sued. How­ever, in­stead of another Palmer com­pany, Queens­land Nickel Sales, fund­ing Mr Mensink’s largesse, the cash is now flow­ing from Mr Palmer’s flag­ship com­pany, Min­er­al­ogy. While Mr Palmer said he knew Mr Mensink was still be­ing paid, he said he was not aware about the switch in com­pa­nies. “There’s a lot of peo­ple who leave us who are en­ti­tled to their pay­ments; I don’t in­ter­fere with that,” he said.

“I was heav­ily se­dated, I was un­der mor­phine,” Mr Palmer said of his May tes­ti­mony, in­sist­ing Mr Mensink was re­ceiv­ing his le­gal en­ti­tle­ments as an ex-em­ployee.

Fed­eral tax­pay­ers were forced to step in and pay Queens­land Nickel’s work­ers more than $70m in un­paid re­dun­dancy en­ti­tle­ments af­ter Mr Palmer’s com­pany fell over. The re­fin­ery work­ers are still $6m out of pocket.

Out­side court, Mr Palmer in­sisted the sit­u­a­tions were com­pletely dif­fer­ent and de­fended bankrolling Mr Mensink while not pay­ing ex-Queens­land Nickel work­ers.

“Mr Mensink’s en­ti­tled to his nor­mal pay­ments as any other worker would be ... I think they’re two sep­a­rate things,” Mr Palmer said. “I don’t think (Mr Mensink’s) got a fugi­tive sta­tus … you can’t take from peo­ple the prop­erty they’re en­ti­tled to, un­less you’ve got a court or­der.”

The founder of the now de­funct Palmer United Party also chal­lenged liq­uida­tors to foren­si­cally test his di­ary, which con­tains ev­i­dence PPB Ad­vi­sory al­leges could have been fab­ri­cated.

Known as Mr Palmer’s “lit­tle green book”, the doc­u­ment is a key ex­hibit in Mr Palmer’s de­fence that he has used to jus­tify his de­ci­sion to siphon money from the re­fin­ery.

Mr Palmer de­nies hur­riedly fabri­cat­ing years’ worth of pen­cil-writ­ten di­ary en­tries last year, just be­fore he turned over the doc­u­ment to the court. PPB Ad­vi­sory’s Stephen Par­bery said it could not get the doc­u­ment foren­si­cally ex­am­ined be­cause it was writ­ten in pen­cil.

The court also heard Mr Palmer had shifted $4.5m from the $23m sale of his cor­po­rate head­quar­ters, Min­er­al­ogy House, into his wife’s bank ac­count, but de­nied it was an at­tempt to cheat cred­i­tors, and in­sisted the amount was “very small”.

Mr Palmer boasted he had more than “a cou­ple of bil­lion in as­sets in Aus­tralia”, but later be­came coy when asked to de­clare his net worth, pre­fer­ring in­stead to write it down on a piece of paper.

The hear­ing con­tin­ues next month.

Palmer yes­ter­day

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