Aaron Bunch Journalist with Australian Associated Press | Collection of published work | + 61 484 008 119 | abunch@aap.com.au

Aaron Bunch
Palmer’s Qld Nickel ‘insolvent for months’

Clive Palmer’s Townsville nickel refinery was cash-strapped months before administrators were called in and hundreds of workers lost their jobs, a court heard.

July 17, 2019

Clive Palmer’s Queensland Nickel refinery was trading insolvently months before administrators were called in to oversee the cash-strapped company, a court has heard.

They ultimately decided the business was too broke to continue and shut it down in April 2016, with the loss of hundreds of jobs.

Now, government-appointed liquidators of QN are trying to claw back about $200 million owed to creditors in the Brisbane Supreme Court.

This includes recovering almost $70 million in taxpayer funds used to cover unpaid entitlements to about 800 workers sacked from the Yabulu refinery.

The billionaire businessman is defending the massive federal government lawsuit against him and nephew Clive Mensink, which he’s previously described as baseless and a desperate, politically motivated attack.

On Tuesday, the lawyer for the liquidators Shane Doyle said there was evidence QN was approaching insolvency by June 2015.

“And was insolvent from the 9th of October onwards,” he said in his opening address.

Mr Palmer also “took steps to ensure security was obtained in favour of his interests” while the company was insolvent, he said.

He made the financial moves “knowing the company was going to go into administration” and knowing “there would be employees who would be made redundant”, Mr Doyle said.

“They are transactions of the most extraordinary kind,” he said.

The court also heard that before QN was handed over to administrators on January 18, the company let go 218 workers.

The 280-page claim by the liquidators names 21 defendants, including Mr Mensink and a string of Mr Palmer’s companies.

The trial continues on Wednesday.

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