Queensland Nickel’s liquidators have a long list of questions for Clive Palmer’s nephew, Clive Mensink – if he shows up for a grilling in the Federal Court in Brisbane this week.
Mr Mensink was the sole registered director of the nickel company before it collapsed last year with debts of $300 million, and the loss of 800 refinery jobs in Townsville.
Here are questions liquidators want to ask:
Who was really in charge?
Liquidators are likely to ask Mr Mensink about what directions he took from his uncle about Queensland Nickel. FTI Consulting has said there’s evidence Mr Palmer was the one really calling the shots and that he used the nickel company as a piggy bank, diverting $200 million to his other companies and his political party.
Mr Palmer has denied acting as a shadow director, something that could see him held liable for Queensland Nickel’s debts. He also says that all the money that was moved around ultimately belonged to him, so there was no wrongdoing on his part.
Mr Palmer admits he did use an alias email address, in the name of Terry Smith, to give directions to Mr Mensink about Queensland Nickel. But he says he was only ever acting in his capacity as the chairman of Queensland Nickel’s Joint Venture Owner’s Committee and not as a director.
What does Mensink know about the ‘secret green diary’?
When Clive Palmer was quizzed in court last year about the collapse, he admitted he’d kept a secret green diary that detailed key decisions about Queensland Nickel.
It was used to record one resolution in 2012, which Mr Palmer said gave him the power to order the nickel company to invest in his other businesses, forgive loans, and make political donations as he saw fit.
Mr Palmer said Mr Mensink knew the diary existed, but he didn’t tell anyone else about it until two weeks before he fronted court. That’s when he decided he should tell his solicitor.
Liquidators may seek to find out more from Mr Mensink about why the diary was kept, and the notes it contains.
What was behind Palmer’s expletive-laden email to Mensink?
Mr Mensink could face questions about why his uncle wrote him a furious, expletive-filled email in November 2015, as the nickel company slid towards collapse.
When Mr Palmer was in court last year, he couldn’t explain why he sent the email, using his Terry Smith email alias.
In the message, he warned his nephew: “I told you what to do. Do it. Do not send me anything to cover your a**e or you f*** everything. Do not contact me by email again.”
The email had the subject line “letter to the treasurer”. It was sent at the same time the two men were trying to convince the state government to give Queensland Nickel a $35 million loan to deal with its cash flow crisis.
Mr Palmer could not tell the court why his nephew might have been seeking to “cover his arse” and didn’t know what he had told Mr Mensink to do.
Nor could Mr Palmer explain why he didn’t want to communicate with Mr Mensink via email.