May 18, 2016

Court paves way for QN cash probe

Court paves way for QN cash probe

The Federal Court today granted an application by the Commonwealth Government to appoint Special Purpose Liquidators (SPLs) to recover outstanding monies from the Queensland Nickel liquidation.

The court appointed Stephen Parbery, Marcus Ayres and Michael Owen from PPB Advisory as the Special Purpose Liquidators.

Employment Minister Michaelia Cash said the SPLs would now be able to follow the money trail relating to the $200 million that was stripped from Queensland Nickel and re-directed to related entities of Clive Palmer and the Palmer United Party.

“The Commonwealth Government sought the appointment of Special Purpose Liquidators because of the unique and alarming circumstances in this case,” she said.

“Following the stripping of $200 million from the company it was placed into liquidation, with over $73 million worth of employee entitlements left unpaid.

“The cost of these payments is now being borne by taxpayers under the Fair Entitlements Guarantee (FEG) scheme.

“The appointment of the SPLs will enable the Government to aggressively pursue the recovery of this money on behalf of taxpayers.”

Senator Cash said this was the first time that a Commonwealth Government had acted in this way to protect the interests of taxpayers.

“It sends a clear message to corporate Australia that employee entitlements rip-offs will not be tolerated,” she said.

“It follows the Government’s strong work to establish the FEG recovery programme and to also commence an ASIC investigation into the liquidation of Bruck Textiles, where substantial assets were also stripped from the company prior to liquidation.”

John Park, Stefan Dopking, Kelly-Ann Trenfield and Quentin Olde from FTI Consulting, have been acting as liquidators to Queensland Nickel.

“Today’s application was supported by the liquidators as we believe that this appointment is in the best interests of all creditors,” Mr Park said.

“We now intend to work closely with the SPL to ensure the liquidation is conducted in a cost-efficient manner and that the interests of all creditors are protected.”

FTI Consulting said the SPLs would pursue all unfair preferences, uncommercial transactions and certain director-related transactions in relation to QN.

They said the liquidators would also review political donations, sponsorship fees, security interests granted to related parties and certain claims against directors and officers of QN for breach of duty.

The General Purpose Liquidators from FTI Consulting also sought and were granted orders today under s.596A of the Corporations Act for the following individuals to be summonsed for examination about the affairs of Queensland Nicke:

 Mr Clive Theodore Mensink;

 Mr Ian Maurice Ferguson; and

 Mr Clive Frederick Palmer

The date for the public examination is yet to be set although expected to be in June 2016.