The Supreme Court of Queensland has frozen more than $200 million of assets owned by Clive Palmer in a win for the liquidator of Queensland Nickel.
Justice Bond of the Supreme Court of Queensland yesterday handed down judgement following an application by the liquidators of Queensland Nickel to freeze the assets.
The application was sought by the liquidators to protect the interests of creditors of Queensland Nickel in the event that legal claims being pursued against the entities and Palmer are successful.
In his judgement, Justice Bond formed a view that “the special purpose liquidators have a good arguable case that they will recover significant judgments against Mr Palmer and his various companies.”
He added that “there are particular aspects of Mr Palmer’s previous conduct and decision making which would lead a prudent, sensible commercial person to infer that there was a real risk that he would take, or cause to be taken, steps outside court processes to attempt to frustrate or inhibit the prospects of enforcement or execution of any significant judgment against him or any of his companies.”
Palmer spokesman, Andrew Crook, said the Supreme Court’s decision to freeze the assets was further evidence of the political witch-hunt against the businessman.
“Despite the fact that Clive Palmer has been the fastest riser on the AFR rich list coming in at the 20th most wealthy person in Australia with $2.84 billion, Justice John Bond has granted an order to freeze just over $200 million of his assets,’’ Crook said.
“This extraordinary outcome in the Queensland Supreme Court seems out of step with what the AFR has highlighted, and is further evidence of an ongoing witch-hunt.
“If a freezing order can be made against Mr Palmer, then a freezing order can be made against any Australian.”
Freezing orders are usually sought by plaintiffs to ensure that sufficient assets are preserved by defendants so legal claims can be met in the event that liability is proven.
Establishing whether claims are payable by the defendants will be a matter for the courts to determine in litigation, which is currently before the courts.
In a statement, liquidator Stephen Parbery welcomed the judgement because it provided court-sanctioned protection to the creditors of Queensland Nickel, including the Commonwealth of Australia, which had to step in and pay in excess of $68 million in unpaid employee entitlements under the Fair Entitlements Guarantee.