Tinkler accused of redirecting coal royalties

Mining magnate Nathan Tinkler is once again attracting headlines after being accused of requesting Queensland coal royalties be diverted from a company associated with a former business partner.

The allegations yesterday came to light at a Supreme Court hearing in which Matthew Higgins, a former associate, is suing Tinkler, the Courier Mail reported.

Both Higgins and Tinkler worked together to launch the Middlemount coal deposit in central Queensland before it was later sold to Macarthur Coal for $65 million in cash and shares worth up to $210 million.

A royalty deal was also set up to deliver $1 for every tonne of coal mined to a new company called Oceltip, and it’s this agreement that’s now the subject of a legal battle.

Royalties have continued to be paid to Oceltip, of which Tinkler has a 75 per cent interest and Higgins a 25 per cent share, both men are also directors.

"One of our major complaints is that a direction was given by Mr Tinkler, in writing, signed by him, to Middlemount in Brisbane," Ian Erskine, lawyer for Higgins, yesterday told the court.

It has been alleged that the direction in question gave instructions for 75 per cent of the royalties to be paid into an account set up by Tinkler.

Erskine argued that the royalties were meant to be paid to the company, allocated for taxes and expenses with the remainder to be used at the discretion of the board.

He insisted that 75 per cent of the royalties were redirected without "any authority of the board".

Kylie Downes lawyer for Tinkler, said they would examine whether Higgins was either involved in the set up of the bank account in question or approved its operation.

Earlier this week Australian Mining reported that Tinkler is attempting to refinance $11.42 million of debt in order to stop receivers selling his private jet and helicopter.

Tinkler lost access to the luxury goods last month after the company that owns them, TGHA Aviation, went into receivership.

Along with THGA Aviation two more of Tinkler's companies, Mulsanne Resources and Patinack Farm, are also in liquidation.

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