Can­berra chases $ 500m law suit Palmer & co in crosshairs

Townsville Bulletin - - NEWS - ME­LANIE PETRINEC

THE Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment is su­ing Clive Palmer and his miss­ing nephew Clive Mensink for al­most half a bil­lion dol­lars for al­legedly breach­ing their du­ties as di­rec­tors of Queens­land Nickel and trad­ing while in­sol­vent.

The sen­sa­tional claim has been lodged in the Supreme Court by the gov­ern­ment- ap­pointed liq­uida­tors and also in­cludes a bid to claw back hun­dreds of mil­lions of QN’s money from Mr Palmer’s com­pa­nies, from Mr Mensink and from two mys­tery women in Kyr­gyzs­tan and Hong Kong.

It is the Gov­ern­ment’s bold­est move yet against the be­lea­guered re­sources ty­coon and is the cul­mi­na­tion of more than a year of pub­lic hear­ings into the col­lapse of QN last Jan­uary with more than $ 300 mil­lion in debts and about 800 job losses.

It comes as a lux­ury Euro­pean cruise get­away con­tin­ues for Mr Palmer, who is also be­ing pur­sued for $ 73 mil­lion he al­legedly trans­ferred from QN’s cof­fers, while Mr Mensink has been on a marathon over­seas hol­i­day since June last year.

Ac­cord­ing to the Bris­bane Supreme Court claim, liq­uida­tors PPB Ad­vi­sory will seek a dec­la­ra­tion that Mr Palmer was a “shadow di­rec­tor” of QN and should pay com­pen­sa­tion of more than $ 207 mil­lion for breach­ing his “statu­tory duty in his ca­pac­ity as di­rec­tor”.

Mr Mensink is also be­ing sued for al­legedly breach­ing his du­ties to the tune of $ 110 mil­lion and liq­uida­tors seek $ 25 mil­lion from loyal Palmer lieu­tenant Ian Fer­gu­son.

The claim al­leges Mr Mensink and Mr Fer­gu­son acted in ac­cor­dance with Mr Palmer’s wishes when he was not an ap­pointed di­rec­tor.

“Mr Palmer made his in­struc­tions and wishes re­gard­ing QNI known to Mr Mensink, Mr Fer­gu­son and other of­fi­cers and em­ploy­ees ver­bally and in writ­ing, in­clud- ing through email cor­re­spon­dence and text mes­sages,” the state­ment of claim al­leges.

“Mr Palmer sent emails to Mr Mensink and Mr Fer­gu­son from email ac­counts in­clud­ing an ac­count in the name ‘ Terry Smith’.”

It is also al­leged QN was trad­ing when in­sol­vent as of Oc­to­ber 9, 2015 so Mr Palmer and Mr Mensink are re­spon­si­ble for the $ 13 mil­lion in debt racked up dur­ing that time.

Mr Palmer’s fa­ther- in- law Alexan­der Sokolov and mys­tery women Ev­ge­nia Bed­nova from Kyr­gyzs­tan and Zhenghong Zhang from Hong Kong are also in the fir­ing line for money al­legedly gifted to them.

Ms Bed­nova is be­ing pur­sued for al­most $ 1 mil­lion, Ms Zhang for $ 4.5 mil­lion and Mr Sokolov for al­most $ 8 mil­lion.

Mr Palmer’s other busi­ness in­ter­ests, in­clud­ing his flag­ship com­pany Min­er­al­ogy, are also be­ing sued for more than $ 200 mil­lion. Ed­i­to­rial, page 18

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