There is something about the Clive Palmer—his saga does not seem to want to end. But now things are getting murkier than ever. His nephew, Clive Mensink, has been overseas since last June, avoiding questions about the collapse of Queensland Nickel. But has Palmer had role in keeping Mensink conveniently out of the way? Has Palmer been attempted to pervert the course of justice?
On being elected to parliament, Palmer allegedly divested himself of management of his business interests, with Mensink assuming sole directorship of Queensland Nickel, the heart of the Palmer money machine. But once QN went into liquidation, along with a damning report by the liquidators about its finances, Mensink conveniently headed off overseas on holiday and hasn’t yet returned.
During Mensink’s absence, the QN case has dragged on and on. Uncle Clive has tried his damnedest to get out of having to answer questions himself. A key matter is that of whether Uncle Clive had continued to run QN as a ‘shadow’ director. And plenty of material has emerged which calls his denials into question including emails from Palmer to Clive Junior, sent under a false name.
As the director of QN during its last couple of years of operations, Clive Junior is in the best position to address these issues about Uncle’s involvement. Yet nine months later, Junior is still swanning around overseas. Excuses have been offered up at different times for his continuing absence such as his being allegedly uncontactable. He was due to appear in court last Tuesday but did not turn up, allegedly due to a convenient medical condition that forces him to remain abroad.
QN matters went beyond local Queensland processes once the Federal Government handed over $70 million to help ensure the employees at QN were paid out their entitlements. It is now a Federal issue with a special liquidator appointed to claw back that Federal debt and investigate more of Uncle Clive’s dealings.
As the QN boss, Clive Junior would have been on a pretty good salary. But are we really supposed to believe that it was enough to fund nine months of swanning around overseas, including a cruise around the Baltic? According to Uncle Clive, Junior is now in the US. But who is paying for it all? Could Clive be paying for that continued absence in order to keep Junior out of the country?
Since the QN collapse started, we have had to put up with Uncle Clive’s protests that he was being unfairly treated along with attempted injunctions to keep him from being questioned in court. He clearly does not want to answer questions. He simply doesn’t want people to know exactly what was going on. It is already public knowledge that cash was milked from QN to fund Palmer United Party. What else is Uncle is trying to hide? If he has had a role in keeping Clive Junior out of the country in order to frustrate the legal process, then that would be consistent with his behaviour to date.
The saga has grown in scope. It is not just the QN workers losing their livelihoods. It is not just creditors facing being stiffed for what they are owed. The taxpayer now has a stake in the affair with those millions used to help out the QN workers. And that is in addition to the big question—was Clive Palmer still directing the affairs of QN while in Parliament? It would also be more than useful to see some forensic accounting of the affairs of QN. When Uncle Clive bought QN from BHP Billiton, its operations were borderline. Why else would BHP be wanting to get rid of it? A boom in nickel prices helped push up the profits of the nickel refinery yet practically overnight, it went from barely holding together to providing hundreds of millions of dollars for Uncle Clive to play with. But was it all legitimate profit from nickel refining or was Clive just milking all the money he could out of the place by not paying for things like maintenance?
Enough is enough. Clive Mensink has been allowed to dodge questions for far too long. Nine months of alleged holidaying followed by a sudden and very convenient illness is simply unacceptable. Clive Palmer cannot be allowed to keep dodging the law by his shenanigans. Palmer’s potential role in keep Mensink out of the country also needs to be carefully examined to ask the question – was he attempting to pervert the course of justice? Perhaps George Brandis should take a break from trying to defend the Centrelink debacle and start doing his job as the nation’s foremost legal officer—the Attorney General—and get things moving properly to bring Mensink back.
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