Clive Palmer back in Federal Court over Qld Nickel collapse

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Clive Palmer is appearing at the Federal Court in Brisbane for a second day, answering questions about the demise of Queensland Nickel.

Clive Palmer sent his nephew and Queensland Nickel director an expletive-filled email warning him not to email him again as the company spiralled towards collapse.

The November 29 email was revealed in the Federal Court public examination into QN’s demise and is from Mr Palmer’s “Terry Smith” alias to his nephew Clive Mensink.

Carrying the subject line – “Letter to the Treasurer” – and sent when Mr Palmer and Mr Mensink were trying to obtain a $25m security from the state government, Mr Palmer this afternoon agreed he wrote the email.

“I told you what to do. Do it. Do not send me anything to cover your arse or you f*** everything,” Mr Palmer wrote.

“Do not contact me by email again.”

Mr Palmer said he could not recall what the email was about, or whether he reduced communication using the “Terry Smith” email address with Mr Mensink after that date.

The court has also heard Mr Palmer lost his phone eight weeks ago.

The hearing has been adjourned to Thursday.

Turnbull, banks in “witchhunt”

Clive Palmer has alleged Malcolm Turnbull and the big banks conspired to destroy Queensland Nickel in a “political witch-hunt” because he was a political enemy of the Liberal Party and the bankers were LNP donors.

Palmer United Party founder and leader Mr Palmer told the Federal Court he met with prime minister Mr Turnbull on October 9 in Sydney, alleging Mr Turnbull promised to speak to the heads of the big four banks.

All banks rejected QN’s request for a $25m overdraft over nine months, including NAB which Mr Palmer said went against “every principle in banking” to destroy QN. The court has heard QN’s chief financial officer Daren Wolfe and Mr Palmer met with the banks in September.

Mr Palmer said he was “sure” all of the head bankers were donors to the Liberal Party. He said the Federal Court public examination was as a result of a “political witchhunt”.

He also claimed he received an email last night from a Turnbull government Cabinet minister asking whether he was enjoying himself.

Collapse due to ‘political reasons’

Clive Palmer has claimed the Queensland and federal governments were “determined” to put his Queensland Nickel refinery out of business for “political reasons”.

Mr Palmer told the Federal Court he met with Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull on October 9 2015 in Mr Turnbull’s Sydney office, to speak about the plight of the Townsville refinery that employed nearly 800 workers.

He was questioned by barrister Tom Sullivan QC for special purpose liquidators PPB Advisory about when he decided against providing personal financial support to keep the refinery running and pay creditors.

Mr Palmer gave a number of answers.

Initially, he said it was in 2012, after he’d owned the refinery for three years. Then he said it was 2013 when he entered politics and “retired from business”.

“I’ve got a wife and children. I can’t take risks personally. I decided not to do it,” Mr Palmer said.

Then he said it was in June 2015 when QN’s chief financial officer Daren Wolfe met him. Mr Palmer said he asked QN if it needed cash to pay off creditors (who were owed about $13m) and Mr Wolfe said no.

“I could have paid that myself but he said it wasn’t required,” Mr Palmer said.

He said he could have sold off “cranes” and other assets, or sought a loan facility.

Mr Sullivan pointed out that he had been unable to secure a loan facility of $25m in September and October from any of the major Australian banks. Mr Palmer said that was not him asking personally, but the company. He also suggested the managing directors of the major banks had for “political reasons” denied the request because of their relationships with the Prime Minister.

Finally, Mr Palmer said he decided against personally providing money to prop up the refinery’s operations in October last year, after he met with Mr Turnbull.

“When I made a political assessment (after I met with the Prime Minister) … when (I learned) the state and federal governments were determined to put Queensland Nickel out of business,” Mr Palmer said.

The court has heard he paid $US1.9m ($A2.5m) in late 2015 to pay workers’ Christmas wages, but did not pay for other debts, such as $13m owed to rail company Aurizon in late last year.

‘Get Chinese quotes’

Clive Palmer ordered Queensland Nickel to buy replacement refinery parts from China and pay barristers’ bills for his flagship company in the year before it collapsed.

The Federal Court was presented with emails from Mr Palmer’s “Terry Smith” email address to staff at the Townsville refinery in 2015, in which he directed to them to “get Chinese quotes”.

On one occasion, a staffer asked Mr Palmer – via his Terry Smith Yahoo address – for approval for QN to spent $3440 on a mechanical seal to replace a failed seal on a refinery pump.

However, Mr Palmer denied the request because he said it could get a cheaper part from China for $600 less.

The court also heard that Mr Palmer said QN could pay Mineralogy’s barristers’ bills in 2015.

He said both actions were done in his capacity as chair of the Queensland Nickel Joint Venture Owner’s Committee. Mr Palmer also referred to a 2012 resolution of the JVOC – recorded in pencil in his “little green book” – that altered the objectives of the joint venture to support “any Palmer company” and not just the refinery’s core business.

‘I’ve lost mobile phone’

Clive Palmer has lost the mobile phone he used leading up to the collapse, before he had to turn it over to the Federal Court and liquidators.

Mr Palmer told the court he had been at a Gold Coast restaurant, Black Angus at Sanctuary Cove, eight weeks ago and believed he left it there.

Liquidators had asked for all details of text messages and phone calls relating to Queensland Nickel to be turned over.

He said his staff was trying to get Telstra to recover a significant number of text messages from the lost phone.

Mr Palmer also said he had made contact with his nephew Clive Mensink at the weekend and he was still on a cruise between Helsinki and St Petersberg.

“He said he had no plans (to return to Australia) at the moment,” Mr Palmer said.

Liquidators have not been able to serve Mr Mensink with a summons to appear in the Federal Court because he has been overseas since June.

‘Push her again, you’ll be sorry’

Clive Palmer has arrived at the Federal Court for a second day under oath answering questions about the demise of Queensland Nickel.

Mr Palmer was again flanked by a private security guard – from a firm specialising in out-of-control teenage parties – as he entered court, and yelled at a press photographer.

“If you push my wife again, you’ll be sorry,” he said.

Mr Palmer’s wife Anna Palmer stumbled down the stairs on Friday afternoon as Mr Palmer was bundled out of court by at least four guards, who tried to block the media from asking questions.

Mrs Palmer was seen stumbling down the stairs, as one of Mr Palmer’s guards appeared to inadvertently bump her.

However, Mr Palmer’s barrister Nicholas Ferrett told the court Mrs Palmer said she was elbowed violently by a “cameraman” and fell.

He submitted affidavits to the court and asked Registrar Murray Belcher to allow Mr Palmer to enter the court to and from the carpark, and not through the entrance everybody else has to use. Mr Ferrett said court security had denied Mr Palmer’s request for “special arrangements”. The photographer Mr Palmer yelled at was not at court on Friday afternoon.

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