Palmer caught paying fugitive nephew
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.