Clive Palmer’s wife Anna says her husband was just being comical when he told lawyers for liquidators of one of his businesses that he was her puppet.

Anna Alexandrova Palmer, a chartered accountant and lawyer, faced the Federal Court in Brisbane on Thursday 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 Mr 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 his wife controlled their finances.

“I’m just a pawn in her hands … I live a frugal life,” he told the court at the time.

Asked about that comment on Thursday, 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, when she was “removed” and replaced by Mr Palmer days after being called to give evidence.

During that time she says she delegated functions of the board to her husband, while she herself reviewed the company’s accounts.

Ms Palmer was grilled at length about what she knew of company transactions, balance sheets and its financial position, after failing to have the request for her appearance dismissed.

It was not the first time she’d given evidence in the proceedings, nor the first time she’d been a director of Mineralogy.

She responded to many of the questions asked by saying that she simply could not recall.

“I have little children, lack of sleep, I can’t remember … I can’t remember what I did two days ago,” she said.

Of media reports covering her husband’s announcement last September that he planned to build a $1.54 billion coal-fired power station in the Galilee Basin, Ms Palmer said: “What I read in the papers, I generally don’t believe.”

But she did confirm the former federal MP’s plans to build a replica of the Titanic were serious, before going on to clarify Mineralogy would not be building it.

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.

She was asked to return to federal court for more questioning next Friday.