Clive Palmer used an administrative account set up to cover his company's expenses at the Cape Preston Port to cover expenses associated with his tilt at a WA Senate spot, according to evidence presented to the Federal Court by estranged business partner CITIC Pacific.
CITIC lawyer Andrew Bell told the Federal Court yesterday that Mineralogy had levied more than $23 million over the past three years on CITIC, through a fund designed to cover Mineralogy's costs in administering the Cape Preston Port, used by CITIC to export iron ore from the Sino Iron project where Mr Palmer is its landlord.
But Mineralogy had had no role in running the port, Dr Bell said, and had provided no accounting for tens of millions of dollars he said was "levied on an improper basis and spent on an improper basis".
Included in the items CITIC had indentified as dubious is an expense claim by Mineralogy executives related to scrutineering of Senate ballots last year.
Dio Wang, an employee of Mr Palmer's majority-owned Australasian Resources, was the Palmer United Party's lead candidate in that election, and won a Senate spot in the re-run of the election last month. While the amount involved is understood to be relatively small, Dr Bell said it was one of a number of items CITIC believed had been improperly claimed by Mineralogy from the account.
Mineralogy withdrew more than $12 million in August and September last year for "port management services".
No explanation for the withdrawal had been made, and no accounting for the spending had been given, according to Dr Bell.
Affidavits presented to the Federal Court over the dispute, which is ultimately over control of the Cape Preston Port, show Mineralogy used the account to pay out more than $645,000 in "undocumented legal expenses", which Dr Bell suggested related to a separate dispute with CITIC over royalty payments from the Sino Iron project.
In 2012, Mineralogy also used the fund to pay $13,750 to the Australian Fencing Association, giving no remittance or invoice for the payment. One of Mineralogy's senior WA executives has had a long-time association with the sporting federation.
The stoush over the payments will be presented to a Queensland commercial arbitration hearing next week, after Mineralogy yesterday failed to win a Federal Court injunction to prevent it.