Clive Palmer’s Money Transfers May Fall Under Money Laundering Laws
Industry insiders believe Clive Palmer’s $43m money transfers overseas in the Queensland Nickel collapse scandal could amount to money laundering after Anna Palmer’s testimony and are calling on AUSTRAC to investigate
In March 2019, Clive Palmer’s wife, Anna Palmer, was forced to testify in the Federal Court in Brisbane as part of the Queensland Nickel investigation that’s been ongoing since 2017. Palmer tried to keep his wife from testifying (and it seems he had good reason to), but she was ordered to appear by the courts, and had a shocking piece of information to reveal;
When she was finally questioned at a public examination by liquidators investigating the collapse of Mr Palmer's Queensland Nickel refinery in Yabulu, north of Townsville, Ms Palmer said that in 2018, while she was director of her husband's flagship company Mineralogy, she approved a transfer of 130 million Swiss francs ($A180 million) to a Bulgarian company called Palmer Investments.
The transfer wasn’t, of course, Ms Palmer’s call: "Have you asked your husband [what happened to the 130 million Swiss francs?]" asked barrister John Peden. "I don't remember," she replied.
This isn’t the first time Palmer has transferred millions of dollars overseas; in late 2017 it was revealed that Palmer transferred $15 million to his Hong Kong bank account and $4.5m to a mystery Chinese woman, Zhenghong Zhang, believed to be his lover, in 2012.
The money was ordered to be siphoned from Mr Palmer’s company’s coffers.
Palmer also ordered about $7.6m be sent to his father-in-law Alexander Sokolov in Bulgaria and about $1m to a woman named Evgenia Bednova in Kyrgyzstan (The Australian, April 16th, 2018).
Many believe Bednova is another one of Palmer’s ex-lovers who received money to keep quiet; Palmer had, at one occasion, spent $250,000 to charter a private plane solely to fly the East European model to Singapore to meet him.
Picture: Evgenia Bednova, a Palmer ex-lover paid hush money?
Overall, Palmer is believed to have transferred close to $43m of company money overseas to various women and relatives when Queensland Nickel was still trading.
After Anna Palmer’s March questioning, many in the industry wonder if it isn’t just Queensland Nickel we should be worried about; AUSTRAC, Australia's financial intelligence agency, is supposed to monitor such large transactions overseas to prevent money laundering and tax evasion.
As more than $224m were apparently siphoned off to Asia and Eastern Europe by Clive Palmer, some are calling upon AUSTRAC to investigate.
From AUSTRAC’s official website: http://www.austrac.gov.au
Queensland Nickel collapsed in 2016. The court is trying to prove that Clive Palmer, who was sole director of parent company Mineralogy, served as a shadow director to Queensland Nickel. State-mandated liquidators claim Palmer, his nephew Clive Mensink and other traded while insolvent as early as October 2015 and knowingly mismanaged company funds. This is a part of a wider lawsuit against Mr Palmer over the collapse of Queensland Nickel in the Supreme Court in Brisbane in July.
So far, things seem pretty dire for Palmer and company; after Anna Palmer’s testimony, Barrister John Peden — acting on behalf of liquidators — questioned how the $180m “loan” Palmer made to his Bulgaria company could possibly be of benefit to Mineralogy. "Wouldn't it just have been better to stash it under the mattress?" he asked.
Liquidators are seeking over $270m from Mr Palmer and were even successful in achieving an asset freeze on some of Palmer’s properties and bank accounts just last year, in May 2018.
Sadly, according to the liquidators, it seems Palmer has been treating Queensland Nickel as a “cash cow” to pay private expanses and bills. The question remains; has Palmer siphoned money to Asia and Eastern Europe to avoid taxation or as part of a money laundering scheme? It’s up to AUSTRAC to determine.
This article does not necessarily reflect the opinions of the editors or management of EconoTimes.