Palmer’s spe­cial flight

Sup­port­ers meet Mensink in Bul­garia

The Sunday Mail (Queensland) - - NEWS - ELLEN WHINNETT

CLIVE Palmer flew a party of loyal lieu­tenants and for­mer po­lit­i­cal can­di­dates on a pri­vate plane to visit his fugi­tive nephew, Clive Mensink, in Bul­garia last month.

Two of the men who joined Mr Palmer aboard the flight to the cap­i­tal, Sofia, are wit­nesses who have given ev­i­dence in the Fed­eral Court hear­ings into the col­lapse of Mr Palmer’s Queens­land Nickel re­fin­ery.

Mr Palmer and nine other pas­sen­gers ar­rived at Sofia Air­port on Oc­to­ber 1. They were on a pri­vate plane char­tered from Dutch com­pany Exxaero In­ter­na­tional and flew from Am­s­ter­dam’s Schiphol air­port.

They left Sofia four days later on the same busi­ness jet, bound for Naples in Italy.

Four days af­ter the visit from the del­e­ga­tion, Mr Mensink, 50, sud­denly left Bul­garia and drove a Mercedes across the bor­der to Mace­do­nia with two younger Bul­gar­ian men.

On Oc­to­ber 16, Mr Palmer is­sued a bizarre state­ment claim­ing Mr Mensink would be ap­pointed the new Euro­pean boss of his Ti­tanic II project.

The High Court last week re­jected Mr Mensink’s ap­peal against two Fed­eral Court war­rants is­sued for his ar­rest.

Pas­sen­gers on Mr Palmer’s flight in­cluded Kris­tian Rees, a for­mer A-League soc­cer player who was play­ing for the Palmer-owned Gold Coast United when its li­cence was re­voked in 2012. He went on to ac­cept a job with Mr Palmer as a prop­erty man­ager for Min­er­al­ogy.

He also stood un­suc­cess- fully for the Palmer United Party in the South Aus­tralian seat of Gray in 2013, and for the Se­nate in 2016. He is now coach of the re­booted Gold Coast United team.

Also on board was for­mer real es­tate agent and loyal Palmer lieu­tenant Ian Fer­gu­son and his wife, Aileen. He is a for­mer man­ag­ing di­rec­tor of op­er­a­tions at Queens­land Nickel and gave Mr Palmer his first job.

The liq­uida­tors have pre­vi­ously heard that Mr Palmer had Queens­land Nickel make a per­sonal loan of $500,000 to Mr Fer­gu­son, which he told the court in 2016 did not have to be re- paid. Mr Fer­gu­son stood un­suc­cess­fully for PUP in the fed­eral seat of Daw­son in 2013 and the state seat of Thuringowa in 2015. Also on the pas­sen­ger list was Martin Brew­ster and his wife, Pamela. The for­mer di­rec­tor of ex­pan­sion and ma­jor works at Queens­land Nickel, and a nephew of Mr Palmer (pic­tured), he stood un­suc­cess­fully for PUP in the fed­eral seat of Her­bert in 2013 and the state seat of Hinch­in­brook in 2015. Mr Brew­ster was one of sev­eral em­ploy- ees who re­ceived emailed in­struc­tions from Mr Palmer about fi­nan­cial de­ci­sions at Queens­land Nickel, un­der the alias “Terry Smith’’.

Speak­ing at his Townsville home yes­ter­day, Mr Brew­ster said he had noth­ing to say about the trip or its pur­pose.

Mr Mensink’s son Ryan, who told the liq­uida­tor’s hear­ings in June that he had no idea where his fa­ther was, was also part of the visit.

Oth­ers on the flight were Mr Palmer’s Bul­gar­ian wife, Anna, and their two young daugh­ters, Mary and Lucy. No record could be found of her brother, Ge­orgi Sokolov, join­ing them, but a rel­a­tive posted a pic­ture, dated Oc­to­ber 1, say­ing he was in Sofia.

Mr Sokolov, also a for­mer PUP can­di­date and em­ployee, now says he is man­ag­ing lit­i­ga­tion for Mr Palmer.

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