Federal MP Clive Palmer has been cleared of misappropriating $12.167 million of funds from Chinese mining company Citic.
The Supreme Court in Brisbane on Monday dismissed two claims by two subsidiaries of CITIC Pacific that Palmer spent $10 million of the company’s money on his election campaign and used a further $2.167 million for other purposes.
The dispute between Citic and Palmer relates to funds that were deposited with Mineralogy to cover costs of operating a port at Cape Preston (in Western Australia) for their mine tenements owned by Palmer’s company.
CITIC subsidiaries Sino Iron and Korean Steel alleged Palmer's use of the money was a breach of trust.
However Justice David Jackson ruled the money was not part of a trust, but was owned by Palmer and dismissed the claim.
"The Administrative Fund contributions made to the bank account were not held on trust by Mineralogy, because the contractual obligations of Mineralogy did not extend to an obligation not to deposit into and thereby mix other moneys in the bank account," Justice Jackson said.
It has been revealed that some of the money was paid from a bank account held by his company Mineralogy, to another of his enterprises, Cosmo Developments.
The rest of the cash was used to pay Media Circus, the company tasked with developing advertising for the Palmer United Party's federal election campaign.
Palmer said he was thrilled to have won the case.
“The court decided quite clearly that the money in a bank account, signed by me, was our money,” he told the ABC.
“All the rest of this other hypothetical stuff (about) what I did with the money? That's my business.
“People might not like the fact that I donated money to the Palmer United Party but it's my money (and) I'll do what I like with it.”
A CITIC Pacific spokesman said the company would investigate the decision, which rested on the technical legal question of whether or not the money was held in trust.
"Our view remains that the use of this money to bankroll Mr Palmer's political ambitions and other business interests was inappropriate and unauthorised," the spokesman said.
"Justice Jackson also found that Mr Palmer knew the administrative fund was to be used solely for authorised costs and reimbursements and knew that the payments to Cosmo and Media Circus were not authorised payments."
CITIC Pacific and Palmer’s company are involved in a long-running battle relating to project development at Cape Preston and royalties for the Sino Iron magnetite mine in the Pilbara.
The $10 billion magnetite project has been built on tenements originally owned by Mineralogy, and the relationship between the two companies soured over the issue of mining royalties. That case is continuing.