Palmer to face court over Qld Nickel saga

By Tracey Ferrier
AAP
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Govt in court over Qld Nickel payouts

The federal government will go to court as it pursues Clive Palmer for millions owed to his workers.

Clive Palmer and his nephew have been ordered to face court to answer allegations about their management of Queensland Nickel before it collapsed.

The Federal Court has granted a request by liquidators FTI Consulting to question the federal MP after FTI earlier said there was evidence he'd acted as a shadow director and used Queensland Nickel to bankroll his other business interests.

The court has also ordered Mr Palmer's nephew Clive Mensink - Queensland Nickel's sole appointed director - to appear, along with former managing director Ian Ferguson.

The hearings will likely be held next month and are expected to range over damning allegations FTI made in its April report to creditors, who are owed hundreds of millions of dollars.

In the report, FTI said there was evidence of gross, and possibly criminal, corporate misconduct by Mr Palmer and Mr Mensink.

It said there was also evidence Queensland Nickel may have been trading while insolvent and that Mr Palmer used the company as a "piggy bank" to fund other ventures.

Also on Wednesday, the Federal Court approved the appointment of three special purpose liquidators - Stephen Parbery, Marcus Ayres and Michael Owen.

Part of their job will be to pursue assets held by Mr Palmer to try to recover almost $70 million in taxpayer funds that have been used to cover the unpaid entitlements of about 800 workers sacked from his Townsville nickel refinery.

The special purpose liquidators will work alongside FTI, whose efforts will be focused on allegedly uncommercial transactions, including to Mr Palmer's other businesses and donations to his Palmer United Party.

Mr Palmer has denied any wrongdoing and says he's not worried about the prospect of being questioned in court, nor about being held personally liable for workers' entitlements.

The MP has already announced plans to sue FTI for $1.2 billion.

He accuses FTI, and specifically administrator John Park, of causing serious breaches of the Queensland Nickel Joint Venture Agreement, and of blocking a restructure that could have kept the refinery open and saved workers' jobs.

"It's a good opportunity for the special purpose liquidator to take action against John Park because he was the person who dismissed all the workers and decided not to pay them their entitlements," Mr Palmer told AAP on Wednesday.

"We weren't responsible. John Park did it all as administrator.

"The facts will come out. Now we've got a new liquidator maybe we can look at some of these things objectively."

FTI says Mr Palmer's claims lack foundation, and the firm will vigorously defend any court action should the MP actually proceed with it.