Palmer’s fugitive nephew in brazen bid to end exile
FUGITIVE former Queensland Nickel Director Clive Mensink has begun Federal Court action to have the warrants issued for his arrest withdrawn in a bid to pave his way for a return to Australia.
But Justice John Reeves this morning told lawyers he will not entertain the application until Mensink indicates what he will do about pending contempt of court charges.
Mensink, who is billionaire Clive Palmer's nephew, was the sole director of Queensland Nickel when it collapsed in January 2016, leaving hundreds of people out of work and sparking long-running and costly legal battles in the Supreme and Federal Courts.
Mensink fled Australia in the wake of the refinery's collapse and has refused to return despite ongoing legal proceedings and court summonses for him to face questioning in Federal Court examinations by liquidators who were seeking to claw back millions of dollars they said was owed to creditors including 800 employees.
Justice Reeves said Mensink's application was "presumptuous".
"The fundamental problem is he is in contempt of court, the very court he is seeking to have provide relief," Justice Reeves said.
"Well I'm not going to set the warrant aside until I deal with the issue that underpins it which is (Mensink's) contempt of court."
"There needs to be a process put in place to charge him with contempt of court and hear that contempt charge and determine whether or not he is to be found guilty and if so what penalty is to be imposed."
Mensink's defence barrister Chris Wilson told the court Mensink intended to plead not guilty to contempt of court.
An affidavit provided by Mr Mensink's behalf indicated he was not currently able to return to Australia due to current events, understood to refer to the coronavirus crisis.
Lawyers for two sets of liquidators, the general purpose liquidators and the special purpose liquidators, appeared in court and were asked by Justice Reeves if they intended to pursue the prosecution of the contempt allegation.
The court heard that as part of a settlement agreement between Queensland Nickel's Special Purpose Liquidators and Clive Palmer, they had agreed not to oppose any application relating to Mensink's arrest warrants.
But lawyers for the remaining liquidators said they needed to take further instructions to determine whether they would pursue the charge.
"I want to find out whether one of the parties intends to do that because if that's not so, I will consider asking the registrar of the court to peruse the proceedings," Justice Reeves said.
"That is to prosecute the contempt charge. There is provision for that under the rules...".
While the Supreme Court battle is largely resolved following a settlement between Clive Palmer and liquidators and a Supreme Court trial, there are still at least two Federal Court warrants for Mensink's arrest.
In June 2018, the full bench of the Federal Court knocked back an appeal to have the arrest warrants thrown out, lambasting "fanciful" and "absurd" claims that Mr Mensink didn't know he was wanted for questioning.
His lawyers then took the case to the High Court, arguing in a special leave application that the appeal should be allowed on a number of grounds including that the judge who issued the warrants erred in finding that Mr Mensink knew he was wanted for questioning but that appeal was also refused.
NewsCorp reporters tracked Mr Mensink down in February 2018 and found him living the high life with his new girlfriend in Bulgaria but it is unclear whether he is still in that country.
In October 2018, Mr Palmer announced he had appointed Mensink as the "European director" of his ambitious plan to build and operate a replica of the Titanic.
The case will return to court on August 5.
Originally published as Palmer's fugitive nephew in brazen bid to end exile