Former MP and mining magnate Clive Palmer has been charged with breaching takeover law for failing to follow through on a proposed bid for the timeshare business at his Coolum golf resort on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast.
The Australian Securities and Investment Commission launched the criminal proceedings with an initial hearing in Brisbane Magistrates Court today.
The Brisbane Times reports Palmer was not present.
The alleged breach of the Corporations ACt relates to an April 2012 bidder’s statement lodged with ASIC by Queensland North Australia Pty Ltd (now known as Palmer Leisure Coolum Pty Ltd) for a 100% takeover of a ‘time share’ scheme, known as The President’s Club Ltd (TPC), at the Palmer Coolum Resort.
The Corporations Act requires that offers in a takeover bid must be made within two months after the public proposal. ASIC says no offer was made by Queensland North Australia Pty Ltd to TPC’s members within that period.
Palmer, 63, a director of Palmer Leisure Coolum, has been charged with contravening the Corporations Act, by allegedly aiding, abetting, counselling or procuring the company to commit that offence.
The charges carry a maximum prison term of two years and a fine of $11,000 for an individual, and $55,000 for a corporation.
The matter has been listed for a pre-trial hearing before the Brisbane Magistrates’ Court on June 13.
Palmer and Palmer Leisure Coolum has applied to the Supreme Court of Queensland for the charges to be permanently stayed, with the application listed for April 19.
The Brisbane Times reports Palmer’s barrister, Chris Wilson, told the court today that he would make a submission there was no case to answer.
Palmer subsequently issued a media release under the headline “Inaugural ASIC chairman clears Palmer” declaring that corporate lawyer Tony Hartnell, founding chairman of the then-Australian Securities Commission, said “charges against PLC and Mr Palmer are doomed to fail”.
The statement goes on to say “Palmer has vowed to vigorously fight charges”, quoting the former MP as saying they “have been brought on for a political purpose”.
Palmer is quoted in the statement as saying:
“The charges relate to matters that are alleged to have happened nearly six years ago in respect of an offer by one my companies to buy around $4000 of shares.
“The charges are an attempt to try to make me ineligible to stand for parliament and they won’t succeed.
“ASIC has known about the events for nearly six years so serious questions must be asked as to why they are acting now and at whose direction.
“I’d like to know if the direction to issue a summons against me came from Brisbane or Melbourne office of ASIC. I bet it was from Melbourne where ASIC’s politically-appointed chairman operates.
“The actions are predictable based on a long track record of political independents being suppressed by different governments.
“The charges have no merit and I will bring to account the individuals undermining the judicial system.”
He said he will hold a press conference on the issue when he returns to Brisbane next week.