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Businessman and politician Clive Palmer has agreed to a multimillion-dollar settlement in a key case against him over the collapse of Queensland Nickel.

The settlement agreement with the Special Purpose Liquidator of Queensland Nickel, Stephen Parbery of KPMG, comes two weeks into a Supreme Court trial on the matter.

It includes full payment of employee entitlements and a full recovery for the majority of unsecured creditors, reported in The Australian as amounting to $110 million in total.

Mr Parbery was appointed as Special Purpose Liquidator in 2016 at the instigation of the Commonwealth of Australia, who paid in excess of $66 million under the Fair Entitlements Guarantee (FEG) to meet the unpaid entitlements owed to Queensland Nickel employees following the Yabulu refinery operator’s collapse.

Funded by the Commonwealth of Australia, Mr Parbery’s role was to investigate events leading up to the liquidation of Queensland Nickel in January 2016, and to take any necessary recovery action for the benefit of the company’s creditors.

“The complexities of the legal issues facing Mr Palmer and his co-defendants, and the resistance from these parties to the recovery actions, caused lengthy delays to the commencement of the trial,” Mr Parbery said today. 

“With the full weight of the evidence being laid before the defendants ahead of the trial, settlement negotiations were initiated as the trial commenced.”

He said the settlement was in the best interests of creditors and provided for the full repayment of the Commonwealth’s FEG debt, all other outstanding employee entitlements, and a full recovery for the majority of unsecured creditors.

It follows a settlement with rail operator Aurizon last week, reported to involve about $20 million.

A small number of disputed creditor claims are still to be dealt with by the General Purpose Liquidators, who remain involved in litigation to recover claims against Mr Palmer’s company, Mineralogy.
Mr Palmer says he has been vindicated in the Queensland Nickel matter, stressing that under the terms of the settlement agreement today neither he nor any of his companies would pay the tens of millions of dollars in legal fees and fees paid to and by the Special Purpose Liquidators.  

“I had no option but to fight this battle to clear my name and to demonstrate to all Australians that serious action is needed to reform the insolvency industry which just destroys and does not build enterprise and jobs,’’ the former federal MP said.

Mr Palmer called upon the Queensland Premier to take urgent action to allow the nickel refinery access to its berth in Townsville so that steps can be taken to commence operations. 

Townsville Mayor Jenny Hill said it was good news to hear that a settlement had been reached that would allow the full outstanding employee entitlements to be paid.

“There are still a number of matters that are still being dealt with by the court,” she said. 

“I’m hopeful that that all creditors will now receive their full entitlements.  It’s been a difficult time for many of these businesses and former employees.  Many people are still owed money as a result of the collapse of the refinery.  I’m sure the full settlement of these claims would be welcomed.”

Palmer settles in Queensland Nickel case