Mining magnate and former politician Clive Palmer has been charged with criminal offences that could see him jailed by Australia’s corporate regulator.
The head of the Australian Securities and Investment Commission, John Price, revealed on Friday that the Queensland businessman had been charged with four offences by the regulator for conduct dating back to 2013.
Speaking at a parliamentary hearing, Price confirmed Palmer had been served with a complaint on summons three weeks ago. He will be compelled to attend the Queensland magistrates court in Brisbane on 20 March.
Price said Palmer had been charged with two counts of dishonestly gaining an advantage for another person and two counts of dishonestly using his position as a company director to gain an advantage for someone else.
Guardian Australia understands the charges relate to Palmer company Mineralogy, rather than the controversial collapse of Queensland Nickel.
“These charges relate to conduct that is alleged to have taken place in 2013, and the matter is being prosecuted by the Commonwealth Department [sic] of Public Prosecutions,” Price said.
The two counts of dishonestly gaining an advantage for another person were laid under Queensland law and each carry a maximum penalty of five years in jail.
The other two charges were laid under Commonwealth companies law and can also attract up to five years’ jail.
Price said there were still active investigations involving Palmer but said he’d prefer not to comment on their nature.
He was asked whether the corporate regulator was investigating Palmer’s mining company, Mineralogy. He responded: “Again, we have investigations ongoing in relation to a number of entities, I’d just prefer not to go further at this stage.”
Palmer told the Australian Financial Review that the charges were not related to the $300m collapse of Queensland Nickel four years ago.
“They have not charged me over the Queensland Nickel stuff at all,” Palmer told the AFR.
“They have charged me over another thing but it’s nothing to worry about.”
At a previous parliamentary hearing, Asic said it was working through 32 terrabytes of data relating to Palmer, which it had received in September.
“So we did find material of interest in relation to that matter and things have moved on somewhat since we last spoke,” Price said.
Palmer played a critical role in the 2019 election, using his wealth to run a campaign against Labor.
His campaign with the United Australia Party is thought to have cost $80m. He did not win a single seat.