Clive Palmer has taken ill, prompting his absence again at the Queensland Nickel collapse trial, which has also been told the billionaire businessman’s replacement expert insolvency witness is no longer available.
Mr Palmer is fighting a massive lawsuit in the Brisbane Supreme Court against liquidators following the Townsville refinery’s demise.
They’re chasing him for about $200 million they say was owed to creditors when QN was shut down by administrators in early 2016.
On Friday, the mining magnate was no-show despite being roasted by Justice Debra Mullins for failing to appear less than a week earlier.
It was left up to lawyer Chris Burns, who is representing some of Mr Palmer’s co-defendants, to deliver the explanation.
“Due to sickness he won’t be attending this morning,” he said.
The news was swiftly followed by a lawyer for Mr Palmer’s companies, Dr Chris Ward, informing the court there was another problem with the Palmer team’s expert insolvency witness.
“Regrettably, Mr Hughes (the witness) and my clients haven’t been able to come to a final agreement over fees,” he said
A new expert would take over, beginning work on Monday, he said.
It came a day after Justice Mullins roasted the Palmer camp about their tardy efforts finding an expert witness when she learned Mr Hughes had flown to Brazil and couldn’t start work until next week.
The saga has been brewing since the trial began and the court heard Mr Palmer’s original insolvency expert, Peter Dinoris, had become ill and resigned from the defence team.
This prompted the Palmer camp to make a spirited last-minute bid to postpone the trial, which Justice Mullins rejected.
The trial continued on Friday with administrator Kelly-Anne Trenfield in the witness box.
She told the court that when her team arrived at QN in January, the company was losing $1 million a week and was about $10 million in the red.
A week later, Mr Palmer’s team allegedly resurrected a little known clause in the QN joint venture agreement that removed the refinery from administrators’ control.
“We were left with 550 employees to pay and no actual ability to generate revenue to pay their wages,” she said.
QN collapsed three months later.