The federal Small Business Minister has welcomed a court’s decision to freeze over $200 million in assets belonging to billionaire businessman Clive Palmer, saying he has a duty to payout his former employees.
Mr Palmer, a former federal politician who founded the Palmer United Party (PUP), had $205 million in assets frozen by the Supreme Court in an ongoing dispute about unpaid worker entitlements at his now defunct mining company Queensland Nickel.
Special purpose liquidators, funded by the federal government, are pursuing Mr Palmer and others associated with the failed miner to recover around $200 million to repay 759 former employees.
Around $6 million of that includes outstanding entitlements to 455 of the former workers.
“It’s both ironic and appalling that this decision came on the same day Mr Palmer was boasting about returning to Australia’s Top 200 Rich List,” said Craig Laundy, Minister for Small and Family Business, the Workplace and Deregulation.
“He should do the right thing and use some of this new-found wealth to pay what he owes to former workers and to taxpayers.”
Mr Laundy claimed that “By freezing $205 million of his assets, the Supreme Court of Queensland has sent a clear message to Mr Palmer that his duty to his former employees should take precedence over spending on extravagances such as billboards and books.”
The frozen assets will be held to make them available to creditors should Mr Palmer be found personally liable. However, the relevant trial is not scheduled for hearing until February 2019.
In April this year, Mr Palmer was the subject of separate action by ASIC, which charged him with breaching the law pertaining to corporate takeovers.
In that instance, Mr Palmer and his business Palmer Leisure Coolum were accused of making a public takeover bid for The President’s Club in 2012, but had failed to submit a formal offer.
According to this year’s Top 200 Rich List, Mr Palmer was ranked as Australia’s 20th wealthiest person, with an estimated fortune of $2.84 billion.
Adam Zuchetti is the editor of My Business, and has steered the publication’s editorial direction since early 2016.