Federal Politics

Clive Palmer was Queensland Nickel director when $700,000 was donated to the Palmer United Party

​Controversial politician Clive Palmer briefly popped up as a director of his embattled Queensland Nickel company at the same time as the struggling entity made hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of donations to his political party.

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Mr Palmer's abrupt 26-day directorship last year coinciding with the company handing out more than $700,000 in donations raises questions about his claim of not being involved in running the business since being elected three years ago.

ASIC records show Mr Palmer as lobbing in as a director for Queensland Nickel on January 22, 2015 apparently replacing his nephew Clive Mensink, who resigned the same day.

Clive Palmer's 2014-15 donations were belatedly revealed in official Australian Electoral Commission figures.
Clive Palmer's 2014-15 donations were belatedly revealed in official Australian Electoral Commission figures. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen

Mr Palmer then stayed on as a director for just 26 days before resigning on February 16 - the same day Mr Mensink is recorded as returning to the role .

Asked on Monday about the donations and his directorship, Mr Palmer denied any issue, texting Fairfax yesterday say only that there was "no basis in article (sic)".

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Last week he was quoted in the media as saying: "Of course I have no personal responsibility. I retired from business over three years ago."

A spokesman for Mr Palmer said the change in directorship related to a period when senior management including Mr Mensink were on leave.

Queensland Nickel managing director Clive Mensink.
Queensland Nickel managing director Clive Mensink. 

He said Mr Palmer at the time took leave from Parliament. The spokesman said the company's auditors have signed off on the company being solvent at the time. 

Exactly what business decisions were made at the North Queensland business during this 26 day period of shifting directors' chairs has not been made public.

Australian Electoral Commission disclosure records revealed on Monday that Palmer businesses donated $10 million to the Palmer United Party last financial year, including nearly $6 million from Queensland Nickel. The $5.9 million donated by Queensland Nickel was the largest single corporate donation in the 2014-15 financial year.  

The Electoral Commission records show Queensland Nickel made a series of hefty donations to the Palmer United Party during the 26-day period when Mr Palmer was director.

On January 23, one day after Mr Palmer became a director, Queensland Nickel is listed as donating $110,000 to PUP, according to the company's official political party donation disclosure records for last financial year.

Three days later, Queensland Nickel donated again, this time $220,000. Then two days later an even larger donation of $440,000 is recorded. A number of other donations are listed during the 26-day timeframe but all are under $25,000.

While numerous other donations were made during Mr Palmer's time as a director an even larger number were made during Mr Mensink's time in the role.

One of the largest appeared to be a $2.8 million donation made on March 4, 2015, just days after Mr Palmer resigned the directorship and Mr Mensink returned to the director's role.

Queensland Nickel went into voluntary administration on January 18 this year having layed off 237 workers, with the company blaming a slump in nickel prices for its collapse.  

In January company managing director Mr Mensink said: "The prime reason for QN administration and associated events is the price of nickel, which is at its lowest for 15 years."

Mr Mensink has had a lengthy association with PUP, having been listed as the party's agent on its 2014-2015 political party disclosure return, run as its candidate for the state seat of Mundingburra in the 2015 election and for the federal Senate in the seat of Dickson in 2013

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