Ms Palmer married the billionaire mining magnate back in 2007 and has been heavily involved with the business since then.
Today in court, Palmer’s wife said her husband was being funny when he told lawyers for the liquidators of one of his businesses that he was a pawn in her hands.
Ms Palmer, a chartered accountant and solicitor, faced the Federal Court in Brisbane today to answer questions about her role as a former director of one of her husband’s companies, Mineralogy.
Her appearance was required as part of an ongoing dispute between Palmer and liquidators for his Queensland Nickel refinery in Townsville, which collapsed three years ago.
During questioning by lawyers for liquidators in May 2017, Mr Palmer told the Federal Court Ms Palmer controlled “financial things”.
“I’m just a pawn in her hands … I live a frugal life,” he told the court at the time.
Asked about that comment today, Ms Palmer said: “I think that was just a throwaway funny comment. I think he was being humorous.”
Ms Palmer was director of Mineralogy from October 2018 to February this year.
During that time she said she delegated functions of the board to her husband, while she herself reviewed the company’s accounts.
Ms Palmer was questioned at length about what she knew of company transactions and its financial position, after failing to have the request for her appearance dismissed.
Mineralogy has been asked to produce documents detailing management accounts and bank statements.
Queensland Nickel owed creditors millions and left 800 workers out of a job when it failed.
‘IT SOUNDS TERRIBLE NOW BUT IT MADE SENSE’
Before Ms Palmer was forced to face court today, the former Mineralogy director was happy working away in her husband’s shadow.
Ms Palmer spent the first 18 years of her life in her native Bulgaria.
In 1993, only a few weeks after her 18th birthday, she landed in Australia to marry her soulmate Andrew Topalov.
Due to Ms Palmer’s visa — one that required her to be married within six months to stay in Australia — the pair were forced into a quick wedding.
Ms Palmer’s Bulgarian parents had no hope of making it to Australia in time so instead, Mr Topalov asked his close business associate Clive Palmer to step in.
Palmer, who was 39 at the time and 20 years the Bulgarian’s senior, stood in for Anna’s father at the 1993 wedding, even walking her down the aisle.
He and his first wife Susan also sat at the bridal table with Anna, acting as her “stand-in parents”.
“It sounds terrible now, but it made sense,” Ms Palmer said in an interview with Australian Story in 2012, five years into her marriage with Clive.
“His whole family was there, which was quite lovely. Basically Clive and his wife, Sue, were there. They were there as my mum and dad … He made a lovely speech, which he’s very capable of.”
By 2006, both Anna and Clive Palmer were struck down by heartbreak.
Susan, Clive’s wife of 22 years, and the mother of his two children, Michael and Emily died from cancer in 2005.
Less than a year later, Anna’s husband’s lost his long battle with melanoma.
Still grappling with his own loss, Clive offered his condolences to Anna and asked if there was anything she needed.
“I had never really spoken to him or had a conversation with Clive at that stage,” Anna told Australian Story.
“But it was very nice of him to contact me later on, and we had dinner with him and Mike and Emily, which was nice … a little bit awkward, but it was quite lovely. They were all very nice and he was quite understanding, much of a relief to be able to speak to someone else without them wondering, being awkward I guess.”
A year later, the pair were married and the couple now have two daughters, Mary and Lucy.
In their rare family interview in 2012, Palmer admitted he was “grateful” his wife chose him.
“I mean I was very grateful that anyone would want to spend any time at all with me, you know?” Mr Palmer said.
“Let alone, let alone as someone as attractive and as vital as she was and she is.
“I never thought of Anna as a partner in life at that stage but after about two years we started going out together and then finally we got married.”
Ms Palmer was already a chartered accountant and had been employed at PricewaterhouseCoopers when the pair married.
She’s also a qualified lawyer and has previously acted as the director for a handful of her husband’s companies.
But since the birth of their two daughters, Anna has stepped back from work to take care of the children in their gated mansion on the Gold Coast.
When the couple aren’t at their exclusive home on Sovereign Islands, they’re moving among their other properties scattered around the Gold Coast or holidaying at their home in Sofia, Bulgaria.
“Initially before having the children, I got involved (in Clive’s businesses) in a smaller level, because Clive didn’t and still doesn’t have a tax manager in-house and that was my specialisation,” Ms Palmer told Australian Story.
“So I got involved to a small degree, and once we got very busy and I was having Mary and looking after Emily as well, I gave that up very quickly.
“I realise that we can’t really be working and living together at the same time, it takes away too much.”