Embattled Clive Palmer, as expected, has come out swinging by releasing a 93-page document he insists clears him of wrongdoing at Queensland Nickel.
The federal MP, who famously lists litigation as a hobby, has also vowed to fight any charges against him after administrators FTI Consulting’s Tuesday report suggested he had acted as a shadow director.
FTI also said there was evidence QN may have been trading while insolvent and Mr Palmer used the company as a “piggy bank” to fund other business interests.
In statements issued on Wednesday, Mr Palmer claimed the report was a “beat up”, “filled with innuendo” and FTI were pursuing him for political purposes and to drive up their own “exorbitant” fees.
He also told the Australian Financial Review: “I’m looking forward to going to a court – anywhere – to sort this out”.
Mr Palmer released the Queensland Nickel Joint Venture Agreement on Wednesday, saying it would “clear up inaccuracies”.
He said he was part of QN’s Joint Venture Owners Committee, which allowed him, under the agreement signed in 1992, to manage funds flowing in and out of the company.
“This document will validate the structure of the Queensland Nickel Joint Venture Agreement, but in short the report released yesterday is nothing more than a beat up,” Mr Palmer said.
He also said FTI was wrong by suggesting QN could have been trading while insolvent from November 27 last year by pointing to a default notice from Aurizon on that date.
Mr Palmer said Aurizon had agreed in writing to give an extension until January 18 so a “financing solution” could be achieved.
“On 18th January 2016 when said solution was not achieved, the director then complied with his obligations and placed QN in administration,” he said.
“There was no insolvent trading.”
FTI’s damning report found Mr Palmer appeared to act as a shadow director alongside the sole appointed director, his nephew Clive Mensink.
The administrator said Mr Palmer and Mr Mensink may have breached parts of the Corporations Act and could face criminal charges.
The corporate regulator, the Australian Securities and Investments Commission, is investigating.
Queensland Treasurer Curtis Pitt has promised the state government would fight for about 800 workers affected by QN’s woes to be paid their full entitlements, worth about $73 million.
Opposition Leader Lawrence Springborg said if Mr Pitt was serious, he would commit to funding and indemnifying liquidators if they attempted to recover insolvent debts through the courts.
Workers will receive some of the money due to them under the federal government’s taxpayer-funded Fair Entitlements Guarantee, but will have to chase the rest through the courts.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has urged Mr Palmer to reach into his own pocket to pay the entitlements, while Employment Minister Michaelia Cash said on Wednesday she would decide “within 48 hours” whether to release funds from the scheme before QN probably goes into liquidation next week.
Creditors will vote on Friday week whether to adopt FTI’s recommendation that QN should be wound up.