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Published On: Tue, Dec 17th, 2019

Clive Palmer in Trouble in Queensland, Pursued by Local Council, Rock Band, Gold Coast Villa Owners and ASIC

Clive Palmer’s time of troubles: December of 2019 saw the billionaire in legal trouble on several fronts, sued for millions of dollars.

Billionaire, ex-politician and mining mogul Clive Palmer is fighting for his life, as he is pursued for millions of dollars by more than one party in the state of Queensland.

photo/ Jwmcdonald81

In the Gold Coast, timeshare members at the Coolum Resort have filed a $37.4m class action lawsuit against Palmer for unconscionable conduct and moral obloquy. This saga started in 2011, when Palmer took over the resort for $80m, and then closed it down indefinitely in 2015. Almost 100 villas remain in the resort, mostly owned by Australian retirees. They bought the timeshares for $50,000-100,000, but soon found themselves without water or power because of Palmer’s actions.

In August 2019, the retirees installed a new 200m power line for $120,000, but 64 villas cannot use it and remain without electricity. 

The retirees’ outcry has been largely reported on in the media, but this recent class action lawsuit has somehow gone under the radar, at least for now.

In Townsville, Palmer is facing is a $2.5m lawsuit by the Townsville City Council. The council is seeking rates and charges they claim Palmer has not paid for his Queensland properties since 2016, including the Yabulu site for the now-closed Queensland Nickel refinery.

“Not only is this frustrating, it is also unfair for the thousands of other land owners across Townsville who paid their rates and water charges as required, including those who paid despite their property suffering damage in the devastating monsoon event earlier this year,” said a spokesman for the council. 

This comes at a key moment, as Palmer is trying to reopen the QNI nickel refinery and get access to Berth 2 at the Port of Townsville. The billionaire recently threatened the port and the city of Townsville with a negative campaign and a lawsuit for denying him access to the port, but officials say negotiations are still ongoing.

However, Palmer still owes the Port of Townsville $1.1 million which he refuses to pay; “He’s got a very notorious record in Townsville, he’s been spending $50 million on the most expensive political campaign in Australian history, and he still hasn’t paid his debt of $1.1 million to the Port of Townsville,” said Ports Minister Mark Bailey.

Palmer is also being sued by Universal Music, who represent US glam rock band Twisted Sister. Palmer used their song “We’re Not Gonna Take It” in his political party UAP’s TV and YouTube ads in January 2019 during his federal elections campaign without permission. The Sydney court heard that Palmer knew he was supposed to pay royalties for using the song, but refused to because he “didn’t like the price”. 

“The reason the additional damages case arises is the evidence Mr Palmer requested a licence from our client,” said barrister Patrick Flynn. “He knew that he needed one. He didn’t like the price, is our case, and so he went ahead.”

Also in Queensland, Clive is also running away from criminal allegations by the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC). ASIC told Parliament back in October that their investigation is close to complete and hinted that soon, criminal charges will be brought against Palmer in court.
This is pertaining to the Queensland Nickel investigation, which has been ongoing since late 2015. Palmer is accused of falsifying book entries, using an alias to give orders to directors (including his nephew Clive Mensink) while functioning as a shadow director, making money transfers in the hundreds of millions of dollars to Eastern Europe and Switzerland and trading while insolvent. 

The investigation was able to prove that Palmer knew Queensland Nickel was about to collapse as early as November 2015, but continued doing business in this state of insolvency. To ensure his own financial security, Palmer sold Queensland Nickel shares of worthless entities belonging to him for close to $200 million. In this manner he was able to get paid ahead of employees and creditors, who are still waiting for their full compensations.

Experts believe criminal charges will be made by ASIC in the first quarter of 2020, after massive public pressure. Many are outraged that Palmer could be awarded two mining licenses in the Galilee Basin (for Alpha North and the Galilee Coal project) despite his corporate misdeeds and mismanagement. While environmental organizations and farmers are still fighting these projects in court (for environmental reasons), Palmer has also announced a new HQ in Perth, Western Australia, where he owns the tenement of Sino Iron; a mining project in risk of closure due to insufficient infrastructure. Palmer refuses to let operator CITIC Pacific build a new tailings dam to save the project. The WA government, including Premier Mark McGowan, are looking for ways to intervene on the project’s behalf, to Palmer’s dismay. 

No end is in sight for these entanglements, but judging by latest developments, Clive Palmer could be spending his days at Australian courts for quite some time.

Author: Spin Feed

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