Clive Palmer has rejected a federal government lawsuit against him and nephew Clive Mensink over the collapse of Queensland Nickel as baseless and politically motivated.
Mr Palmer said in a statement that the claim, lodged late last week in the Supreme Court in Brisbane by the government-appointed liquidators of QN, had “no legal basis” and was “just a desperate attempt for the government to act for political purposes”.
The 280-page claim is attempting to claw back some of the $300 million in debts left when QN collapsed in early 2016, leaving hundreds without a job.
It names 21 defendants including Mr Mensink, a string of Mr Palmer’s companies, former QN director Ian Ferguson, Mr Palmer’s father-in-law, and two mystery women in Hong Kong and Kyrgyzstan .
Mr Palmer, who is currently on a luxury European cruise with his family, is being personally pursued for $73 million he allegedly transferred from QN.
He is also being sued for $207 million in compensation for allegedly breaching his duties as director.
The liquidators want a declaration Mr Palmer acted as a ‘shadow director’ for QN after formally stepping away from the company.
They claim he exerted power over the company’s direction and finances from behind the scenes.
“During the periods when Mr Palmer was not a validly appointed director of QNI prior to 18 January 2016, Mr Mensink and Mr Ferguson, being validly appointed directors of QNI, were accustomed to act in accordance with Mr Palmer’s instructions and wishes,” the claim reads.
It alleges Mr Palmer used emails and text messages to give instructions to Mr Mensink and Mr Ferguson, that he remained a signatory to QN bank accounts even when he ceased to be an appointed director, and that he also signed documents that shaped the business.
Mr Mensink is being sued for $110 million in compensation for alleged breaches as a director, while Mr Ferguson is being sued for $25 million.
The claim also alleges Mr Palmer and Mr Mensink continued to trade after the company became insolvent in October 2015, and so are responsible for the $13 million in debts wracked up by QN before it collapsed a few months later.
Mr Mensink has been out of the country since June last year, and has failed to appear at the Federal Court in Brisbane on a number of occasions to face liquidators over QN’s collapse.
Mr Palmer said he has filed a lawsuit against the liquidators in the Federal Court.