Mining magnate Clive Palmer has been ordered to repay more than $100 million over the collapse of Queensland Nickel after a decision by Queensland’s Court of Appeal.
Liquidators for Queensland Nickel creditors have won an appeal to claw back the multimillion dollar loan made to Palmer-owned parent company Mineralogy by the failed north Queensland refinery.
In a decision handed down on Friday, the court found billionaire Clive Palmer had personally authorised the loan, signing legal documents as both lender and borrower.
When questioned by staff about the total balance owed by Mineralogy, Palmer replied through an alias email account: “No limit continue clive.”
The Queensland Court of Appeal ruling handed down on Friday is the latest chapter in the ongoing legal saga by government-appointed liquidators of QNI against Mr Palmer.
It follows a mammoth 2020 Supreme Court civil trial into QNI’s 2016 collapse, leaving 800 people out of work.
Mr Palmer struck a deal to settle the majority of the initial $200 million lawsuit – including agreeing to repay $66 million in taxpayer funds forked out for sacked worker entitlements.
The deals, worth about $130 million, also secured the full recovery of most debts owed to unsecured creditors and settled an $88 million Aurizon claim for about $18 million.
That left $102 million on the table, which the liquidators argued was payable for a series of unrepaid loans from QNI to Mineralogy.
The initial claim to repay the loans was rejected in Queensland’s Supreme Court in June 2020. Justice Deborah Mullins ruled transactions were payments from QNI’s joint venture companies to Mineralogy, not QNI.
At the time, a jubilant Mr Palmer declared the Mineralogy decision as a victory over “evil”.
“This judgment vindicates my faith in the judicial system in Queensland,” Mr Palmer said.
“The lies against me are unprecedented in Australian history. The stand I have taken was to not allow evil to triumph.”
However, the Court of Appeal overturned the decision. It ruled the judge had erred, ordering Mineralogy and Mr Palmer to repay more than $102 million to the failed company.
“The appellant has succeeded in demonstrating that the judgment should be set aside, and in lieu, Mineralogy should be ordered to repay the loans to QNI,” the court found.
“The loans were made by QNI as trustee, and QNI is entitled to have them repaid.”
FTI Consulting liquidator John Park has welcomed the court’s decision.
“This is a great outcome for creditors of QNI,” Mr Park said.
“After five long years of formal proceedings, we hope today’s decision will put an end to this matter and we can proceed to finalise payments to creditors and finalise a long and complicated liquidation.”
Questions over repayment of outstanding interest on the loan and costs involving the court action are yet to be finalised.
Mr Palmer has been contacted for comment over his change of fortune.