Legal proceedings, including the serving of documents, have begun in the Supreme Court of Queensland against Clive Palmer, Clive Mensink and 19 other parties associated with Queensland Nickel.
Investigations by the Special Purpose Liquidator, appointed by the Commonwealth Government, have revealed a number of parties may have breached Corporations Laws and may be liable to pay damages to Queensland Nickel in excess of $200 million.
The claim will allege that:
1. Mr Palmer and Mr Mensink are personally liable for damages in excess of $13 million for insolvent trading;
2. Mr Palmer, Mr Mensink and Ian Ferguson are liable for breaches of directors’ duties at common law and under the Corporations Act;
3. Mr Palmer is indebted to Queensland Nickel for amounts in excess of $70 million;
4. The Joint Venture Entities owe Queensland Nickel $209 million for liabilities that Queensland Nickel incurred for the Joint Venture Entities; and,
5. Queensland Nickel has debt claims against several of the defendants associated with Mr Palmer.
Since January 2016, when Queensland Nickel was placed into voluntary administration, the Turnbull Government has undertaken a number of actions to protect workers' entitlements and pursue monies owed to the Commonwealth Government.
This has included exercising Ministerial discretion under the Fair Entitlements Guarantee (FEG) legislation to allow Queensland Nickel employees to have early access in the scheme; the appointment of a Special Purpose Liquidator to recover taxpayer monies paid to Queensland Nickel employees and investigate potential breaches of the corporations law by its directors; and additional funding of the FEG Recovery Program to enable the Special Purpose Liquidator to undertake these proceedings.
The Government has taken strong action to protect the interests of the former employees and the Australian taxpayers by funding the Special Purpose Liquidator to ensure that those who owe money to Queensland Nickel are brought to account.
The actions of the Government send a very clear message to the defendants that it will take all steps it can to ensure that they face court.
To date, through FEG assistance, approximately $66.8 million has been paid to 759 ex-employees of Queensland Nickel.
Approximately 455 employees still have outstanding entitlements (approximately $6 million) due to the capping arrangements in this safety net scheme. Those employees who have not been paid their full entitlements under FEG rank equally with the Commonwealth as creditors. The ongoing work of the Special Purpose Liquidator is intended to ensure creditors ultimately receive the monies they are owed, and to hold responsible those individuals involved in the demise of Queensland Nickel who may have acted unlawfully.